Thank you for this beautiful, painful, important memorate.
I hope you realize that you are not alone. Some of us pale-faced Christians and some of us paled-faced of some other belief system are caught in parallel circumstances, feeling the way you feel about the blindness and injustice of human circumstances, taking action in the best ways we know against evil and sickness and prejudice and broken social systems. The venues differ. The Catch 22s feel the same. And we are men as well as women, and boys barely men, and people labelled “mentally ill” who have values and live and suffer and die by those values.
How we can ally ourselves to oppose the forces of ignorance and prejudice and evil? How can we identify our common humanity and common values so that the opposition does not see a black person but a woman in an impossible situation, not a black person but a man with an addiction who can be treated and healed? Here, you express the feelings of any woman who is being hassled by a drunk. Most of us identify. Colour is almost irrelevant, except in this situation it is the social reality that infuses the scenario with a toxic miasma. I have faced many such scenes where the person out of control was “mentally ill” as well as drunk or high. I have faced a few where the women involved were laying false charges against innocent men. Police, as ignorant of states of consciousness as they are of common humanity and as prejudiced against men now, where we live, as they used to be against women, act as judge and jury when they decide whom to arrest. The actual lawyers and magistrates may be more corrupt than the cops. The most recent outcome of our saga of injustices was our youngest son (31, at the time) ending up in jail, despite his heroism, where he had a massive left-brain stroke.
You and I are women of faith. We conceive of a God of such wisdom as can separate the flesh from the bone: a metaphor for surgical precision in understanding and action. So far, the two of our five children caught in the injustice gears, the thrice-healed schizophrenic and the recovering stroke victim, are alive and struggling to find viable paths forward. There is no way to measure the amount of time, money, prayer, sacrifice, and effort that has gone into supporting their dangerous journeys. Dangerous because of terrible ignorance that permeates our society. Mental illness can be cured simply and easily with music. That is the astonishing truth to which my walk of faith led me. It unlocks the door to a viable future for marginalized people of any colour who have those audio-processing deficits that cause aberrant behaviour, like the hassling you received on a bus. Substance addictions are relevant because they damage an already weak ear and in our “liberated” societies the mentally ill have access to substances, both from doctors and from the street, that further damage their ears and multiply their behaviour problems. High frequency music strengthens the muscle in the ear that controls the transmission of high-frequency music into the brain. The right ear is supposed to maintain left-brain dominance, which is the normal configuration for learning, including learning self-control. Our sons have benefited from this new knowledge. But Friday night one of their schizophrenic and addicted friends ODed and died. I’ve know Jeff since he was a little kid in school with our boys. I say “Hi” on the street and wave to him as he emerges onto the sidewalk from the liquor store in our tiny village. He doesn’t see me when he is with his adored little girl. Last spring Jeff had a kind word the first time he saw our paralyzed son struggling to walk into a government building that he happened to be going into, “Rough,eh?”
“”Yeah.” It was the first time Alex had spoken to a friend about his devastating injury.
I feel responsible for Jeff’s death. There is no question he could have been treated and cured. But I am only one person and I have had all I can do dealing with what’s on my plate.
You seem to come to a similar agonizing conclusion in this story. I want to comfort you, Liz. Heartbreak abounds. But you need to know that vast numbers of other people of many nations and races and cultures and positions in life are working sacrificially to bring the light of truth to the ignorant, prejudiced, and ungodly who enjoy social positions of power. The ray of light I give you is that all behaviour depends on tiny muscles in the ear that may be genetically weak or may have been weakened by various types of assault but that can be strengthened with music. We correct vision with glasses. We can correct hearing with high-frequency music. We can make people more rational with the right kind of music. We can support the recovery of addicts. We can make the marginalized whole mentally so they are employable and can live normal lives. We can refocus racial conflicts by slicing through to the real issues — in this case a man with addictions that affect his self-control — by strengthening and healing that individual and by informing the “keepers of the peace” that the man is a “patient in treatment” not a criminal.
Never underestimate the power of your prayers — or of your surgical writing.