How We Fight

Wild One 101
From Ciarán of Ailbhe’s Nine

Some learn to become indifferent to pain until they fight without thought. They learn how to lose themselves (their ability to feel, the essence of who they are, their sense of being) in order to win. The cost of this is high, for the selves they defend are the very same they so easily abandoned. Their eyes go vacant or hard or unseeing. They are trained to deny much of their own human being, and so likewise cannot see those they fall as flesh and blood and bone. They choose an inner death before their life is ended, believing it makes them better able to survive. It is unknown what continues to exist after such a fight is done, even in a victory.

But we learn to fight with our aliveness. The power within us forged in the fire of feeling. Our eyes are clear and wakeful, whether full of sorrow or laughter– compassion and passion being as they are two sides of a soul. We live our humanity fervent and full. We see each other eye to eye, and in the defending of all people, recognize ourselves in all we meet. No one is immune to suffering or grief. But the cries that we utter are always our own, whether of joy or of pain, and always the radiance burning inside. And when we fall, we blaze out each like a pulsing star, a heart that dared to beat with love, until the last spark fades from who we are.

My own thoughts:

I’ve been having a very hard time putting anything into words regarding how I feel about living in a nation that seems to have been swallowed up by fear, prejudice, hatred and greed, perhaps in reverse order. Reading the news is like downing a glass of pesticides every morning and then trying to go about my day hoping I won’t experience any side effects. I’ve been paralyzed by a sense of hopelessness, grief-stricken, incredibly angry, tentatively resolved into taking action, terrified, and sometimes daring to dream all in a day. I’m a philosopher who spent more than a decade learning the rules of reason: all that flooding of feeling recently often leaves me reeling. I’m still trying to learn how to effectively take action without shutting down.

I used to be an avid advocate for the rights of children. I used to daily defend my right to full inclusion, equal access to education, acceptance and regard. And, whenever someone ever suggested to me that my perseverance made me a fighter, I’d be sure to defend my definite opinion to the contrary. To me, the purpose of advocacy was to build bridges, while the purpose of fighting was to burn bridges and erect walls, and the winner would be the fastest. I thought advocacy was strategic and thoughtful, but fighting was inherently destructive and usually violent. Advocacy resolved conflicts, fighting created them. That was a lot of black and white thinking.

We’re now faced with a situation in this country where our supposed leaders want to build walls, and the most effective way to resist is to fight: for compassion rather than hatred, for freedom over fear, for dialogue over discrimination, for human rights, for healthcare, for immigrants and their families, for people rather than profits and for healing rather than division.

I believe now that when people used to tell me I was a fighter, I honestly had no idea what they meant by that. I am discovering that I have so much to learn, unlearn, and relearn.

I am learning how compassion is as fierce as it is gentle, and is more powerful than fear, stronger than the deepest shame. I’m learning how wholeness is always in each of us, and that division is only as effective as the deception behind its appearance. I’m gradually accepting the fact that maybe, perhaps, I know how to fight for myself and for others… I just need to learn a new paradigm for how to go about it more effectively. I’m learning to trust more, to listen more, and to share, speak up, more.

I am not finding sharing these thoughts to be easy for me, at all. But I’m starting with where I am at, and that’s enough for now. I’m sure there will be many more insights from my ancient family to post as well, as I keep learning, so I will be sharing more from them here, too.


5 thoughts on “How We Fight

  1. It’s very hard to know how to combat what is rising (again) in all our societies. You can defeat ignorance with education, but this isn’t ignorance, as the rise of Nazism wasn’t ignorance. It’s wickedness of the variety only human beings know how to fabricate. I don’t know what the answer is. It’s certainly not ‘praying’ since its often religious leaders who are doing the stirring, and it isn’t ‘letting him just get on with it and we’ll see what happens’. I’m lost in this world, I really am.

    1. I think I’m the same kind of lost as you are. I agree, it’s not ignorance, it’s cruelty. I’ve been through my fair share of trauma personally, and knew from a very early age how terribly people can hurt each other. Maybe somewhat because of that, and because I often feel I don’t have a lot of resources to handle what’s happening in the world now, I just feel crushed and defeated a lot of the time and feel like crying when that is probably not advisable, like sitting at an airport where they stream news constantly. Anyway, if we’re lost together than at least we won’t be alone in it. When I can feel hopeful, it is because there are still empathic decent loving human beings in this world who I can count as friends, and our connectedness could make all the difference.

      1. Like you, I find consolation in the like-minded friends acquired through the internet. How representative we are, I don’t know. People who approve of murder, massacre, destroying the planet, genocide etc etc tend not to shout about it on blog posts. But they seem to be running the show.

  2. Oh Éilis! I know how you feel. What is happening in the US affects us all around the world. But its not just happening there, we’re seeing it to a much smaller extent in the UK, with Brexit, and elsewhere. It’s shocking, such a step backwards into the dark times of the Medieval ages. People are being manipulated, their fears played with by powerful people who know exactly what they’re doing, and who are out for their own personal gain. Humanity has come so far, and yet in less than a year its taken such a huge tumble. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m clinging to the hope that out of the darkness a light will shine, and I’m not talking of religion, because in my opinion, it is religion which has caused so much damage in the world. Hope isnt enough though. There has to be action. Trouble is, those opposed are people of peace and sensibility, not trouble stirrers. We can’t wait for everyone to come to their senses, we thought they would when they voted, and look what happened.

    1. I wish I knew what even a portion of the solution would be, Ali. There is a deluge of huge problems and critical issues that seem to arise daily. It’s one loss or threat after another. I really don’t know what to do. Yes, nations don’t always last, and if this is a trend that continues long after the next four years, we’re in trouble of collapsing or damaging the planet severely enough that our most pressing issue will be survival. But even that big picture view doesn’t really help. Every day, families are being split apart, minorities are being targetted and the health and safety of all sorts of populations are in question. There’s an immediate need to relieve suffering, no matter what policies or procedures win. There is a need to both thoroughly respond to individuals directly affected by marginalizing, oppressive policies or the destruction of laws and policies that significantly improve their lives, and respond collectively to the systems and policies themselves, and those in power implementing them. To me that is an enormity and I admit I become paralyzed by the vastness of what does and might need doing, and besides donating and signing petitions and such I end up unsure of where to focus if I am even able to remotely have an opinion and then all my decisions are reactionary. It’s a scary, distressing, heartbreaking time in which to live.

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