Protecting from a loved one

They are not easy times when you must, I believe, protect yourself from someone you love. It can require disengaging them from your life.

There are any number of real reasons for this being the healthiest choice on the table, but none are, the person I need to protect myself from is a bad person, a bad human being. Unhealthy? Yes. Bad? No. Absolutely not. The range of problematic conditions has its fair share of members, alcohol, drugs, addiction, personality disorders, and so on. These elements know no bigotry.

That someone we may need to distance themselves from someone doesn’t make them a bad person and it doesn’t free them of their responsibility for wounding others, as well as themselves.

When someone fires off a few sentences of verbal cruelty, say, I believe the self-inflicted wound runs deeper and does more damage to the perpetrator. Someone tangled up in behavior patterns that wound the lives of others – lacking any empathy whatsoever in some cases – already has a low self-esteem, whether they realize it, admit it, or don’t.

A person in this kind of struggle has basically two choices.  They can recognize the unhealthy patterns they’re  in, and get the help and support they deserve, and get free of them. Or, they can surrender their lives to a method of life-management that guarantees conflict, pain, suffering, heartbreak, and guilt. Everyone of us deserves the chance to get well. Not everyone realizes it when getting well is necessary.

The reason the perpetrator takes the deeper wound is this. On some level, he or she knows what they are doing is wounding and abusive and looks to degrade the target. So each time the perpetrator strikes, he or she is reaffirming the message they got taught about themselves, when some where along the line, they may have been degraded, even on a daily basis, often by some adult who could not be escaped.

In fact, I know of some wonderful acronyms for the word, FEAR. It can mean, Face Everything And Recover, or, Fuck Everything And Run.

My instinct is wedded to the former.

The Murder of an Innocent: Neda Agha Soltani

Just the picture of this 27-year-old woman dying on the ground sent me into the waiting arms of the horrors, heartbreak and rage. Rage at the slimy little shit who aimed his weapon at Neda Agha Soltani as she was standing next to her father and pulled the trigger. Heartbreak at all she and her father and those around her went through as life left her body. I have a working knowledge of what it is like to be on the ground bleeding profusely after being shot, death pulling me away from the world. The horrors have been in nightmares, difficulty sleeping , moments when my eyes fill with tears that sometimes spill down my cheeks.

Being a father I can’t and won’t imagine what her father went through experiencing his daughter being shot to death. Experiences like that are out of the reach of words, despite the efforts of this and other pens.

The fact the Iranian government and others turn an encouraging eye on these things is physically, morally and spiritually revolting. This hideous disregard for human life, matched, by the way, by the likes of Dick Cheney and his ilk, the ability to be murderous, is not confined or defined by the borders of any country.

This is a short piece for this blog. It is hard to see through tears and type through the pain. What I can say is please remember to live and remember to love. Remember kindness and compassion. In love lives real power, real strength. For the few who experience the idea of being loving and kind as weakness, ask yourself, why is it so hard for you to do?

Please, be loving, it is the only way out of this.

Rest in peace, Neda Agha Soltani.


I will soon call an extraordinary man who has reached out to me to talk about our shared desire to see our culture’s addiction to violence decrease, if not vanish all together. Particularly the grip this addiction has on so many of our young people. I am deeply humbled by his request to connect with me.

I wanted to talk a little about this addiction to violence.

Before I do, let me relate a fairly well known piece of American Indian lore. A warrior goes to his chief and says, “Chief, I have two wolves battling inside me, the good wolf and the bad wolf. Which one is going to win.” The chief says, “Whichever one you feed the most.”

There are many forms of nutrition for the good wolf, chief among them, perhaps, is honesty. Honesty may be the greatest form of nutrition for the good wolf, dishonesty, the favorite dish of the bad wolf.

Having said this, let me say that I have both received and delivered violence in my life. I am no saint. Yes, it has been many years since I have delivered any, but I have put men in hospitals and my violence destroyed my first marriage. And my first wife was, without question, one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known.

But addiction to violence is like any other addiction. You cannot get well by yourself. You cannot do it alone. The sobbing man who swears he will never be violent again is no different that the ashen faced vomiting alcoholic or addict who swears they’ll never use again. The can all pass a polygraph in that moment of gut searing agony, but unless the get real treatment, the man will be violent again the alcoholic and addict will use again. It is as simple and horrible as that.

And far too many people never choose to declare war on their addiction and by doing so, discover the wondrous relief when you realize how truly wonderful it is that you don’t have get well all by yourself. And life free of addiction? Well, it doesn’t get any better, I can tell you that.

There are many reasons for our penchant for violence, and I do not pretend to know them all. But I do know that one of the reasons we are, as a culture, crazy-addicted to violence is this. We are raised to believe the following is true. Your ability to inflict violence is a true and accurate measure of your strength. Is that true? No. It’s bullshit.

We are taught that crying is weak, admitting we are afraid is weak, admitting we lack knowledge in one are or another is weak, walking away from a challenge to fight is weak. All not true. How do I know? Try these questions on for size.

– If it’s an act of weakness for you to cry, then why is it so hard for you?

– If it is an act of weakness to admit you lack knowledge, then why is it so hard for you to admit it?

– If it is an act of weakness for you to admit you are afraid, then why is it so hard for you to admit it?

– If it is an act of weakness to walk away from a fight, then how come it’s so hard for you to do it?

The discovery these questions lead us to is this truth: real acts of strength are not pleasant. Real acts if human strength are not easy and they are not pain free. But they are rewarding and freeing.

Consider this. Few human events take as much strength as the strength a woman displays when she gives birth. Yet, I dare you to walk up to a woman in the middle of labor with a mic in hand (make it a mic with a cord so you can pull it out from where she is going to put it) and ask her, Do you feel strong right now?

The people in our country, the youth in our country don’t need support in getting free of their addiction to violence. They deserve it.