Found this post from June 2010… these days, I’m asking where I plant bombs in my own marathon- then, I was looking for the gash in my soul that poured toxicity into my ocean
There’s a verse in the Qur’an that speaks to the connection of all things and the expectation that we’re to examine those connections to bring our development forward: “and they shall see the signs on the horizons and in themselves”
As I watch the oil gushing from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, and become increasingly frustrated at what seems to be a criminal lack of action following a criminal act of negligence, the feelings of anger and powerlessness and anger at my powerlessness work themselves into a full frenzy.
Deep within, my own Pele screams for accountability, and though I hear the chorus calling for accountability growing all around me, the call seems to be falling on deaf ears. Is it possible to be a lone chorus in the desert wailing about a gushing gash in the sea?
I feel the tension in my body. As if a hand has entered the back door of my heart and bears down. My jaw is tight. Anger stiffens the muscles up my neck and into my head. My brow is twisted. Feelings of anger, frustration, powerlessness bubble up from the deepest part of me and sour into fury. I want asses kicked. I want heads to roll. I want Justice.
I want Vengence.
Every picture of an oil-soaked bird, every report of what the toxins are doing to the wildlife, every thought of those whose livelihood is ruined are a pump that hauls this inky sticky dark murderously coating flammable toxin to the surface, knocking through my stomach, tearing through my throat, scouring over my teeth growling on my tongue…
There is a gash in the floor of my soul’s sea- the rage seems endless. It pours forth at astonishing rates and shows no sign of stopping~
Taken aback at the realization of the oil spilling forth within me, I stop and feel. I watch and listen.
Its just like when…
yes. of course.
The memory-feelings of injustices past are flooding through me. The fudged safety inspections, the bad deals, the ways my self-respect was bargained down for a short-term gain (or fear of a short-term loss)
yes, they too never faced accountability. They too ran and spun and lied when confronted-
but that’s not where the gash is- that’s not the source of this rage, of this anger…
No. Its how I didn’t hold them accountable. Its how I confronted, but didn’t require responsibility. Its how I did not take steps to make sure it wouldn’t happen again, and thus let it happen again. This gushing gash that bleeds toxins into the sea of Grace inside of me- it was caused by my own lack of accountability.
I’ve devoted much thought lately to the differences between shame and guilt,
how they work inside of me, and how they obstruct or facilitate forgiveness,
and thus affect Change.
Guilt is incident-specific. I screwed-up. I can make amends. I can change what needs to be changed so that it doesn’t happen again (or at least an arc of improvement is begun). Guilt is a trouble-shooting system that finds a problem, then finds a solution. There is no attack on my foundation, my character. Shit happens. Guilt lets me know that it just did so I can get the clean-up crew on it.
Shame builds a case against me. I didn’t just screw up. I AM a Screw-Up. Immutably so; and here’s the laundry list of crimes to prove it. Shame is a judgment against who and what I am at the core. It is a track that leads to despair, for there is little that can be done. The clean up crew is left helpless- this is a spot that won’t scrub out.
As the stench from the fumes pulsing from the gash inside me waft up, I recognize that Shame will stretch the the breach farther open- whether that shame is directed inwardly or outwardly. I see how shame blocks me from being able to forgive. From being able to let go. Shame grips me by the neck and holds my face down- suffocating me, rendering all my movements impotent. It dredges up on my shores, it weighs down my cranes so they cannot fly, it suffocates the marine life within me, polluting my water thoroughly.
Responsibility and Accountability liberate me. They pull me out of the blame game that keeps my face so close to the dung pile. They are my path to the surface, my lungs full of fresh, clean, air. This shift has plugged the leak inside of me. The torrent has ceased, and there is only the rocking motion of the moon-pulled tide. As I roll up my sleeves to clean up the mess this Shame-Spill has unleashed in my internal ocean, I am relieved. Grateful.
“For evil in the world is nothing other than evil from our hearts that’s been let out”, Yann Martel writes in Life of Pi, and now I know where to look inside of myself to make sure I’m not contributing to this natural disaster.