Monthly Archives: February 2013

Post the Second 2 or A poem for New Orleans

The city

Is touched by

Madness

The cracks in

The sidewalk

Filled with memories

and ghosts

Walk through the

night

Looking  for home

This used to be

Swampland

She said

Teeming with muddy

Water

and the sediment

of centuries

A sacred place

Where the rains

Of the four corners

would mix

Bringing tidings

Of great things

In land

Far away

How do you mourn

That which

is no longer felt

no longer known

How do you remember

Something

that was never forgotten?

Now the land is

rotten

she said

Buried under layers

of oil and concrete

levees and canals

What once was a home

to many

Is now a barren place

Filled with the miasma

of self-hatred and

Willful neglect

How do you imagine

Something that is real

Manifest something

That can never be

Make love to something

That was never there?

The marrow of this place

She said

has been sucked dry

desicated remains litter

the ground

white shapes savagely

drain

Art Culture Experience

for their sustenance

trying to stave off

the Yawing jaws of emptiness

I must have more

They say

More More More

and their appetites are never

sated

Despite this

She said

We survive

In the cracks of

The sidewalk

Growing up out

of destruction

In the notes that leap

from the Jazz bands

Brass

In the homes

we rebuild and the seasons

we weather

We survive

She said

Because we must

There is no other option

the ancestors that we

Remember impel us

Forward

To claim what is ours

I see now

Where the road

Turns

and resistance exists

even if it is not

known

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Post the One Hundredth or On Radical Compassion

This is for the anon who asked what radical compassion means. For me, the common understanding of compassion is that we sympathize with those who are suffering and seek to ameliorate their suffering. Because of their suffering, they are deserving of our pity. We feel bad of them and so we do what we can to help. And while this is all well and good,  there is a very shallow understanding of the root of suffering or why people suffer. Put in another way, regular compassion just seeks to make someone feel better. It is a Pollyanna, “lets all just get along”, “you poor thing here is a cookie” response to suffering. It is individualistic and fails to see the bigger picture. It sees suffering as an unfortunate occurrence that exists in a vacuum that lacks context. Regular compassion is silent on why people suffer.

And those who experience suffering have access to this type of compassion only if they behave in appropriate ways. In other words, you only get compassion if you play nice and don’t make anyone uncomfortable.

Radical compassion, on the other hand, stands in solidarity with those who are suffering. It examines the interpersonal, systemic, institutional and structural reasons for suffering. It seeks to locate the individual sufferer within the greater social context. It understands that suffering is systemic and that those under more axises of oppression generally suffer more. Radical compassion seeks to challenge these causes of suffering and allows the sufferer the freedom to react and engage with their suffering in anyway that they see fit. In other words, those who are suffering are allowed to rage and scream and be angry and still receive compassion. Radical compassion does not pity the sufferer. Rather, it seeks to fight with the sufferer to end suffering.

Radical compassion seeks to end suffering on a systemic level. Regular compassion just seeks to help out the individual sufferer. And that is ok, as far as it goes. But I don’t think it goes far enough.

Another way to describe radical compassion is by saying that it is fiercely gentle. It has your back and understands where you are coming from and seek justice with you.