Wednesday, March 13, 2013
The Upside of Anger
“Just like our organs, our anger is part of us. When we are angry, we have to go back to ourselves and take good care of our anger. We cannot say, ‘Go away, anger, I don’t want you.’ When you have a stomachache, you don’t say, ‘I don’t want you stomach, go away.’ No, you take care of it. In the same way, we have to embrace and take good care of our anger.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Most of us have a problem with accepting anger. This is completely understandable: anger fuels hatred and war. It harms and destroys. Anger has brought a lot of fear to many lives, including my own. Anger kills.
We associate anger with violence, destruction and a whole host of frightening things and it’s for good reason. I will come out and admit it, though: I am, at times, angry. Very, very much so. Living in a world where billions of sensitive beings are brutalized and slaughtered, where girls in India are sold by their parents as terrified young brides, where West African children are kept as slaves in order for corporations to sell cheap candy bars at convenience stores: why on earth wouldn’t I be angry? The things that anger me are a truly renewable resource: dead zones in the oceans, demeaning billboards, the culture that drives so many teen girls to self-loathing and eating disorders. Every day, I add something new or sharply underline an item on the list that already loops around the moon and back. I’m not ashamed to admit this.
At my core, though, I am essentially a happy person. Years ago, I made promise to myself that I would be happy and I am fortunate enough to have a particular predisposition that allows me to make good on that promise. The people who know me in person know that I love to laugh and have fun. If I had a dollar, though, for each time someone who does not know me called me angry based on my responses to the things that chip away at my heart, I could buy an island off Tahiti and fill it with my own private army of people who wave their angry fists at the sky all day long. What fun would that be, though?
How do I explain this seeming incongruity between the very real anger and equally real joy that I feel? I think that it comes down to how the anger is worked through: is it allowed to fester and warp us, forcing us to bend to it, or can we consciously work it out of ourselves, and, in the process, create something that makes the world just a little bit, or even a lot, better? Channeling anger into something that is productive - in other words, something that I consider necessary, expansive, helpful and worthwhile - makes me very happy; it’s almost a process of wizardry. I swear, I see sparks sometimes. At its best, anger gives those of us who possess it access to a potentially transformative experience.
Almost all of the projects I’ve worked on that I am most proud of have germinated from that seed of anger, no matter how positive they become in the nurturing process. That seed of anger is rooted in a deep desire for creating something different, and that is how it flowers. Without the seed of anger, though, I don’t know that I would have that initial drive to create change. Anger provides the fuel that I first need to get out of the inertia that despondency and helplessness fosters. Here is an example of my process: after seeing the success of a “humane meat” festival, and seeing it become less and less friendly toward vegans, I thought, “Why on earth don’t we have a vegan festival in Chicago? There are lots of us! It’s ridiculous that we don’t have our own festival. That really ticks me off. Stupid happy meat! What could I do? What could I do? Damn it, I could help to start a vegan festival.” It was with this initial flash of discontent and anger that Chicago VeganMania, our region’s largest free festival of its kind, was born almost five years ago.
The downside of anger, I think, comes from misdirection, stagnation, or turning anger into violence against another or oneself. Stewing in anger without transforming it into conscious and productive creative action is what is destructive and where we go backwards. The time we need to feel that anger and find our pathways to transformation is essential to the process, though, and I fear that with society’s negative messaging about anger, many will deny themselves the profound metamorphosis it offers us. Sitting with and simply allowing our anger, accepting it, is how we begin to harness and transform it. Where would we be as a society without the fury of Stonewall, without the white-hot gall of the Suffragettes, without the moral outrage of the Abolitionists? They weren’t just screaming in the streets: they created newspapers, art and music. They influenced culture and helped nudge society toward progress. Yes, peace and rainbows have their place but so does discontent and we need to honor that. Maybe we would be where we are now, maybe those in power would have willingly ceded their privileges if given enough time. Should those who are oppressed and killed, though, be asked to wait while polite requests are considered? Should the dysfunctional power dynamic inherent in making such requests be reinforced?
What really transforms the world? Love. But to get to love, we need to start somewhere, and sometimes, it is in the bright, hot embers of anger where we find the spark that we need to turn despair into positive action. Don’t be afraid of it. Cultivating a joyful life is the biggest way that we can influence others but a little anger has its place in getting us there.
Friday, March 1, 2013
I'm Not Not Murdering Anymore
Okay, please first read this if you are not familiar with it. Then you’ll know everything you need to know about my source of motivation.
Please understand that I am not trying to claim here that meat-eaters are murderers. (I don’t believe that simply because murder has to have intentionality behind it and most people who eat meat don’t do it intending to inflict violence: they do it out of habit and preference.) The point of this post is to explore the fundamental vapidity of moral relativism - a New Age-ready form of reasoning that tells us that, basically, everything is equally good - and the dangers of using amorphous and self-serving “cravings” as our baseline for how we conduct ourselves. Using moral relativism and cravings as our compass, what is to stop us from doing virtually anything we want just because we want to do it? Isn’t this how narcissists behave? At the worst, what about sadistic psychopaths? I changed one detail about the post I linked to above and it illustrates not only the absurdity of using moral relativism and cravings as the main justifications for our behavior, but also reveals just how willing we are to accept the enslavement of other animals. One (murder) is unthinkable and ghastly and the other (eating and using animals to our ends) is perfectly reasonable. Why?
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please enjoy...
I am no longer not murdering.
While I am no longer not murdering, I still passionately believe in one’s right to not murder. I also believe, though, that murder can be done in a way that is personally honest and empowering. Not murdering is a wonderful way to live if you can do it. Your unique spirit is the only one that can decide if murdering is right for you or not. I am here to support you however you choose to live, either with or without murdering others.
Some of you may be upset or offended by what I am about to share but I am no longer interested in living in the shadows, of hiding when I should be living my truth and showing up in the Now as who I am.
Some may be angered.
I am tired of the deception and hiding in the shadows, though. So I am coming to you now, with a guileless, open heart. After accepting my cravings, I am killing people once again but this time I have no shame about it. My body spoke to me and I took a leap of faith.
I finally listened.
After a lifetime of killing people for kicks and grins, I realized that I just didn’t feel right about it anymore. It suddenly felt wrong. Innocent people deserved to live, right? Killing them was wrong, wasn’t it? This resonated with me, my values.
I wanted to do the right thing. I didn’t want to kill anymore.
So I tried to live without murdering others and for the first few years, it felt damn good to live this way. I could do this, I told myself. I felt clean, light, re-invigorated, righteous. The few pounds I wanted to lose, too, they just melted off.
I surrounded myself with other non-murderers. I read the books they recommended. I created my own path. I was thriving and I no longer felt the urge to stalk, kill and dance in anyone’s blood. I was a success story.
I started a business where I consulted others on how they could limit murdering and eventually give it up entirely. I wrote books, was featured on Oprah.
I was a true believer. I’d found my calling. It was in not murdering.
As I said, not murdering felt good for a while. But then something shifted.
I started fantasizing about punching people in the face. I ignored it, tried to push it down. The more than I did that, though, the more the feelings rose to the top.
Suddenly, I didn’t want to just punch anyone anymore.
My friends who were still murderers would tell me stories about their exploits. I was horrified and disgusted but also, I was ashamed to admit, titillated. Would it be so bad if I just cut someone and ran away? If I just shot someone’s leg?
I did that (in the shadows, fearful that my non-violent friends would see me) and for a while it kind of subdued the cravings but then one day, it just wasn’t enough. I knew the answer. My body was telling me but I was covering my ears.
But I was a non-murderer. This felt right.
Day and night, my body told me, KILL. I couldn’t silence it.
I hid my secret cravings from myself, from my family and clients. My whole life and identity was wrapped around being a non-murderer.
“Kill, Marla. Kill,” my body whispered at first, growing louder by the second. “This is your truth. Show up.”
I immersed myself in Gandhi, in the great non-violence texts. I prayed. I meditated. I did colonics. I drank green juices. Meanwhile, the weight began piling on.
Finally, one night, I had my first kill. It was the first time in years. A wild-caught person; I’d done enough research to be assured that he’d had a good life up until that moment.
And it felt sooooooo good.
The Non-Murdering Ideal
I had finally given in to my cravings even though they conflicted with my self-image as a practitioner of non-murder. I noticed, too, that many of my clients were starting to come forward as people who still enjoyed indulging in the occasional murder. I was not alone.
They believed in peace and non-violence.
They cared about compassionate living.
They wanted to feel self-acceptance despite their cravings.
They weren’t thriving as non-murderers, though. Despite the books, despite their ideals, their bodies were crying out for something and their bodies were being denied.
They were ashamed. They felt like failures as non-murderers.
Knowing how right and good it felt for me to be murdering again, I guardedly began coaching them to listen to that ancient echo in their soul that was unsatisfied from suppressing their craving to murder.
I told them that it was okay.
I listened. I accepted them without judgement.
My clients began to relax. They no longer beat themselves up over their body’s innermost cravings. Once the veil of shame lifted, they were able to love and embrace themselves as a whole again. They were allowed to consciously murder again, no longer hiding in the shadows, and not worry about being “bad people” anymore. They felt lighter and more integrated immediately. Most lost weight.
The Hardest Part
Even though many of my clients are humanitarians who are dedicated to human rights causes, it wasn’t that hard for them to start killing again. The hardest part for them was the shame. They weren’t living the “non-violence ideal.”
I felt their pain as I related to their struggles.
And it made me guard the secret of my double-life more closely.
I told no one of my cravings for stabbing, shooting, bludgeoning and choking.
Even as I was helping my clients to embrace the perfection and wisdom of their murderous cravings, telling them that anything we want to do is beautiful simply because we want to do it, teaching them about self-acceptance and self-love even as they killed others...
...I was hiding my own truth. I was a murderer again, too. And I liked it.
Coming Out of the Closet
Slowly, I began to see my cravings and practice of murder through a new lens.
Killing wasn’t immoral or wrong.
It just was.
The sky is blue. My house has wood floors. My dog is a poodle. I am a killer.
I am perfect as is.
I came to see that there is no good or evil; our cravings are a gateway to our physical truth. Murderers, non-murderers: it is all inherently good.
Still, even knowing this, I was afraid of what my non-killing friends, followers and clients - what YOU - would think about this new me. I was afraid of losing the reputation and success I’d built for myself as a non-murderer.
Would you be angry? Would you feel betrayed?
Living in the shadows was wrecking my nerves and self-esteem. I was terrified of being “outed.” In truth, I was slowly being suffocated by the weight of my secret.
Today is that Day
Today, I throw back the curtains.
I am a murderer again. And I make no apologies.
What I Believe
I believe that you can kill someone who doesn’t want to die and do it from a place of love and kindness. I believe that this can be done while still caring for and honoring your victim.
I believe that absolutist beliefs - like that killing others is wrong - are destroying us.
I believe that you can love and care for people and still kill them.
I believe that not honoring a craving is a form of violence against the self.
I believe that not murdering is a wonderful, joyous and valid style of living for most people.
I believe that not murdering should be promoted as one path to peace and non-violence, among others.
I believe that most people should be killing less and letting more people live if they wish to live.
I believe that humans have murder as part of their history and denying this is not doing anyone any good.
I believe that when we kill others, they should be people who were raised in comfortable, humane surroundings and free of antibiotics and growth hormones.
And I believe in compassion and the innate kindness of people. By accepting and loving each other, we will find a place where those of us who choose to murder can do so without society’s finger-wagging. By doing so, we will be actively creating a world that has a new culture of shamelessness and beauty even with murdering others as a part of it.
A culture and a world that is free of shame.
I am still passionately dedicated to helping people find their true selves, whether they murder or don’t murder. There is a place for each of you, and this place is one of radical self-acceptance.
Don’t we all feel better now? I am cultivating a place where murder and non-violence can exist side-by-side without judgement. They are equally good.
As always, contact me if you’d like to sign up for my free newsletters or to learn about my seminars, webinars, personal coaching sessions, celebrity cruises or to join me on an actual Murder Mystery Tour.
With all my love, hope and gratitude,
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