Friday, June 19, 2015

June 19: Did God Will That, Neighborhood Bullies, Clown Fairy Tale, Sally Wen Mao, "The Bullies"

[Ives r]emembered how Robert, coming home in tears after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, had asked him, "Did God will that?"

Ives' son, Robert, asks a question theologians and Christians have wrestled with since Christ was crucified, I think.  In the face of great tragedy, every person of faith eventually runs into crises.  Loved ones who become ill.  Job loss.  School shooting.  Church shootings.  Health scares.  And the inevitable question that arises is, "Did God will that?"

My son is a good kid.  Six years old, he doesn't have a mean bone in his body.  When he goes out on the playground, he thinks everybody is his friend.  When they turn out to be less than friends, he lacks the skills to deal with the rejection.  For example, there is a group of older neighborhood kids who take pleasure in getting him angry.  They taunt him, call him names, throw things at him until he reacts.

I don't know where children learn to be mean to other children.  I have never taught my son to judge other people.  His aunt has Down Syndrome.  He's had friends who were deaf and blind.  He loves everybody.  So where do other kids learn to hate?  It has to come from somewhere.  I want to believe that people, at the core, are good, but, when my son comes to me and says that kids are throwing rocks at him, I tend to have a spiritual crisis.  I want to march over to the kids' houses, pound on their doors, and yell at the first adult who answers, "What the hell are you teaching your children?"

Dylann Roof, the kid who killed nine people in a Charleston church two days ago, wasn't always a racist.  The kids who throw rocks at my son weren't always little shitheads.  Somewhere along the line, Dylann Roof was poisoned.  Ditto the neighborhood bullies.  God doesn't will hatred and cruelty into being.  It happens because the human race is incredibly flawed.  In a perfect world, love and understanding would be the guiding principles.   We don't live in a perfect world.

Once upon a time, a clown named Giggles lived in a town where clowning was against the law.  People hated Giggles.  They ignored him, wouldn't invite him to Thanksgiving dinner or July 4th picnics.

One night, Giggles got drunk, stumbled into the town square, and startled juggling handkerchiefs.  A grim crowd gathered to watch him.  Eventually, the sheriff showed up, beat Giggles with a billy club, and confiscated his red nose.

Giggles crawled home, bloody and bruised.  He crawled into bed and vowed to never clown around again.

Moral of the story:  Clowns suck.

And Saint Marty lived happily ever after.

The Bullies

by:  Sally Wen Mao

In 1997, the days were long, the sun
bloodshot, and Mountain View, CA smelled
like duck shit.  Those days, everyone's mind

was a sex tape on repeat.  Hirsute rumors

clogged the shower drains.  When young girls
disrobed together in a locker room, rancor
smelled like petunias.  The whole stink glowed

with mutant love.  In 1999, tremors erased

my larynx.  Voice mails flooded with cackles,
inboxes sneered.  Late afternoons, my legs
greened Granny Smith-style, and I believed

when they called my leviathan.

Ovoid girl--black hair, burnt skin, snaggletooth
and sexless ruin.  I saw tumors grow the size
of California.  Nobody spat.  Only suggested.

Give this up.  Shucked each desire.

Evenings, when I was finally free, I saw crushed stars
roll into the thistle field.  On that pungent summit

I was a gutter, a bountiful gutter.  I collected
clean rain.  I was a passageway to the open shore.

Where's my fairy wand?

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