clearskies, bluewater

Insights, reflections and creative imaginings for our awakening world

A toxic encounter with The Enemy

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Today, in the middle of a perfectly beautiful, sunny afternoon as I was walking home from the local co-op, I had an unexpected, and most unpleasant, encounter with someone I can only describe as The Enemy. There I was, unprepared, caught totally unaware, and suddenly, he was in my face in a very ugly way. Here’s how it happened:

The enemy came today in the guise of a middle-aged man named Irving whom I had met once before. We were both walking along the same street, and he enquired if I was new to town. So a conversation ensued from there. Within a few minutes he had shared that he had run for mayor, was a book collector, and had 23 different translations of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. By then we were standing in front of his house. “Would you like to come in for a few minutes? I am safe,” he asked. I naively agreed, just for a few minutes.

Once inside, he began showing me his various collections of rare books, according to him. Sure enough, Kerouac was there, along with a whole shelf of Emma Goldman, the anarchist who was working for political justice in the early part of the 20th century in America. Somehow the conversation turned to Jews and that’s when Irving began to get vicious. When I mentioned Noam Chomsky in relation to American anarchists, Irving relegated him to being an anti-semitic, tottering old fool whose ideas have become the bottom of the political critics barrel. When I mentioned the fact that Israel’s politics were decidedly unpeaceful and were in fact aggressive, he turned even uglier, accusing me of not knowing anything about it and how all the wars which Israel have been engaged with have all been purely defensive. He continued in this self-righteous, I-know-all-about-it-and-you-don’t tone for as long as I stood there, waiting for him to stop talking long enough to get the f*%ck out of there. He had found out earlier that I now lived in Denmark, and his parting shot to me was, “Denmark is going down the tubes fast: did you know that the Muslims are about to take over Copenhagen?!”

Once outside in the fresh air, I quickly walked away from there and back through the sunny streets to my nice, safe, temporary home, shaking my head and talking to myself. At first I was simply in shock that a human could be so utterly convinced that he was right and everybody who didn’t agree with him was wrong. The whole encounter had become so vile, like a snake had slithered up to me and started speaking obscenities in my ear. I felt violated, not physically but psychically. Here was a man who basically embodied all that is wrong with male-ego-dominated societies: his world was completely black and white, and he defends force and aggression in the name of peace and love. He was a liar of the worst kind, because like any fanatic, he was so convinced he was Right. This is the dominator role in a nutshell: the male dominated ego, ready to slash and burn anyone who opposes him without so much as a backward glance. No opportunities for anyone else to state their opinion or philosophy or an alternative point of view. What a cold, heartless world it is for Irving, stuck in fear and loathing. Instead of Jack Kerouac, he perhaps would have been better off with S. Hunter Thompson as his mentor and hero. At least Kerouac was a Buddhist, albeit a rather debauched and jaded one.

Thinking about this sudden attack further as I was cooking dinner, I wonder how we as collective humanity can fundamentally shift our thinking enough to be able to eradicate the Irvings of the world, though not physically as in simply killing them, which of course would be thinking in the same way as they do, accomplishing nothing. No, the answer to shifting our way of seeing each other from “The Enemy” to seeing each other as “Those Whose Opinions Differ from Ours but We Nevertheless Can Respect Them”, is going to take nothing less than a fundamental change from a fear-based consciousness, to a consciousness based in love.

Simple words to write here, but my experience today affirms the huge difficulty in putting them into action. The title of this blog is called The Enemy. This means that there is a part of me which understands that the Irvings of the world are my enemy, they are against everything which I as a human being stand for. I see the paradox but don’t really know what to do about it. Today’s encounter with The Enemy spoke directly to what I have been sharing with you, dear Readers, about the urgency and necessity of going beyond the old Dominator (male-based ego dominated) model to instead embrace the Partnership model for living upon this earth. Say what you will; but in the end, it is the feminine qualities of sharing, partnering, nurturing, caring for, power with instead of force over, which will create the paradigm shift our world absolutely has to make if we have a chance in hell of surviving and thriving, while harming none.

I am willing to take a hard, long look at myself and work on the places where I am still stuck in outmoded, dangerous thinking. In the meantime, I will also be a little more careful from now on when walking around my life and suddenly have an opportunity to strike up a conversation with an unassuming-looking stranger. And I will make sure to have my Xena the Warrior Goddess handy in case I need her!

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Author: SingingBones

When we sing over the bones, we are calling the wild nature, the instinctive soul back, singing it alive again. To live with our wildness intact, is the greatest gift a woman can give herself. "It is the holy poetry and singing we are after." C.P. Estes

8 thoughts on “A toxic encounter with The Enemy

  1. This is a tough one… I suggest that we stop using such words as “enemies” because in that we are separating ourselves from them, when “they” are just a reflection of us. If we can be capable of love and peace, then we must share that with all, especially those who need it most, as in your case, Mr. Irving. We are aware that all hatred comes from pain and fear, and the only way to dissolve those soul sabotaging emotions is to be exposed to the complete opposite. But this is our work. We create the world that we want to see. There is no right or wrong. There is only love and fear. I personally vote for love.

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    • thanks for your thoughtful comment, Ania. Nice to hear from you here. As to sharing love and peace with all, as in with Irving that day, believe me I tried. But after several minutes, once he began ranting about Israel and saying things which I simply cannot accept as true, it became increasingly difficult for me to stay in that toxic situation. I agree, the word Enemy has such a charge to it, and I am not normally someone who ever thinks in those terms! which was exactly the point: I realized so clearly that at certain moments, life will and does give you someone to battle, a way in which you have the opportunity to inhabit the warrior part of your soul…. whether in a real war, as so many unfortunately have to do, or else in another, more spiritual, soul way, as in my case. And when it happens, then what do you do? I believe we should not shy away from conflict when it is clear that life guides us to it, but instead we have to be clever, and work with the conflict in the best way possible. This is what i tried to do that day, and the blog was simply my way of processing my reaction to it. Thanks for reading and responding! I of course agree with you in theory. SB

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  2. You are obviously aware that it is not possible to change another person’s opinion when that opinion is so clearly paramount in that person’s perspective. He was trying to persuade you of something without allowing for genuine discourse, and totally unexpectedly. Disengagement protects you when you realize confronting the toxicity is not going to solve anything. You chose that course (I would have, too). And it bothered you later (would have bothered me, too!).

    Irving’s description of himself as “safe” is telling. His perspective seems to have meant “I am not a sexual predator,” but he was “unsafe” for you in a way neither of you expected.

    Perspective shifts are difficult. Human beings have “theory of mind” but that doesn’t keep us from being unable to understand where another person is coming from.

    No answers here. But I do think your interaction with Irving could be analogous to some of the problems the USA is experiencing on the political front. No discourse, no respect, no validation, no evidence–only one’s own perspective and one’s own emotional opinion.

    Interesting that the “feminine” is so often equated with emotionality, when the “masculine” is often more irrational and emotional.

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    • Thanks for your penetrating comments, Ann. You certainly got the essence of this encounter… I hope to never have to repeat it. And I couldn’t agree more about the energy being very much political in the wider arena… we were acting it out on a small scale, what they are doing on a global scale. Just today i caught a snippet of NPR, where they were saying that Obama is planning to withdraw from Afghanistan within a couple of years… and that the people there are ‘getting a bit impatient or tired of the lack of progress…’ my god, just a tiny little bit….!

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  3. I agree, he was wrong not to give you a chance to express and defend your opinions, he was a Mr.know-it-all, or the books might have made him think he knows too much not to take opinions from you.
    But still, i believe enemy is a harsh word.He maybe considered you his enemy because straightaway he started retaliating your phrases and bombarded hate statements, but anyone who tends to disagree to our opinions is not an enemy, even if he is trying to impose them through force.
    As far as his take on various religions like Jewism and Muslims etc, i believe sick minds who want to spit hate sow seeds of anti-religious propaganda.No religion in the world is against peace, no human is a complete representation of His/Her religion.There is already enough anti sentiments in the world, I don’t know where the world is going nowadays…….
    Glad to know you will be extra careful in meeting strangers, how violent he behaved, he could have harmed you in some way….

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    • I know, that word has definitely pushed readers’ buttons! yikes, i was unpolitically incorrect again… Unfortunately I wish what you said about no religion in the world being against peace was actually true… but when I take a look at many of the most powerful religions in the world, we find that the opposite is actually the reality. Holy wars, I believe some like to call it…
      thanks for your cautionary words at the end, ooh that never really occured to me… the white light of God surrounds and protects me! SB

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      • It’s ok,We do use words like hate and enemy often.And believe me, these words sometimes slip out from my mouth too although my kids are taught ‘hate’ and ‘enemy’ are bad words….
        The people of various religions try to prove their points through wars, thinking its a war of good against bad.Sometimes it’s enforced, because we do not have religious tolerance and we always get insecure around another’s opinion and beliefs, sometimes we are unjust and therefore they fight back their right to think and act differently, but i don’t agree with wars.Because the greatest wars are waged within us, and they are enough to bear, infact unbearable!

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        • I certainly agree that the real battle ultimately lies within each human being… but instead of dealing with our own shadow, we project it out onto ‘the other’ well it is a long discussion, is it not? Philosophers have been writing about it for centuries and yet we collectively still haven’t found the truth enough to create a peaceful world. But you and I will remain hopeful, along with millions of others…. imagine peace, and no more enemies.

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