In the trenches of grief

We are all in the trenches together in a war of self-pity versus empathy. What is required of us now is the full experience of grief and letting go.

Denial is not a river in Egypt. There is an addiction going on here, and it is a disease that convinces the victim that they do not have the disease while it manifests as slow suicide. In the context of global social trends, this situation was inevitable, leading us to the next challenge, the next stage of human development, the formation of compassion as a cultural value.

As a Vietnam vet described it, we’re told by our culture not to kill, that killing is morally wrong. Then, with the most childish, ignorant and flimsy explanation we are forced to witness systematic sanctioned genocide of marginalized peoples who are in reality our brothers and sisters. This genocide is not just direct use of weaponry, it also includes all the failures to respond appropriately to pandemics, poverty, homelessness, addiction, mental illness, racism, sexism, domestic abuse, gang violence, school shootings and other forms of contempt for the humanity of others. My heart aches for this seemingly endless list. I veer off into anger, the first stage of grief.

We are conditioned to avoid talking about grief. It is a taboo subject and should only be expressed in isolation, crying alone with our faces hidden. Can you imagine what might be transformed by public grief rituals? Grief transcends all boundaries. Who might suddenly bond with who? How might the establishment dogma of separation be demolished?

There is no “socially acceptable” way forward, only a disruptive path. Peace and love are derided as naive and unpatriotic, a heresy. However…. the more that people are able to witness rebellion against what is really repressive fascism, the more they are also able to believe in the possibility for change, and it is that hope which is the rocket fuel of social change.

I think about all the people living on the street who do not give up in extremely adverse conditions, contrasted with the housed who wallow in despair and make themselves deathly ill with distractions from their true nature. Makes me wonder who needs help the most.

Try, for a moment, to contemplate the idea that universal PTSD translated into survivor guilt has alot to do with frozen feelings that block compassion. People don’t want to think about or talk about the suffering because the grief would destroy their egoic notions about who they are and suddenly reveal (apocalypse) what they have done to their brothers and sisters by neglecting them.

What needs to change is the mental-emotional-spiritual health of those who deny their vulnerability. We do not have a housing crisis, an economic crisis or even a political crisis! We have a population that is suppressing its guilt over its failure to provide a decent quality of life for EVERYONE, in exactly the same way that warriors build PTSD from killing other human beings. That guilt comes out sideways in toxic denial, blame, apathy, depression and real physical illnesses. “Ubuntu” is not just a nice thought, it is a law of nature.

We may already be well on our way toward the formation of mutually-supportive “refugee communities” as exploitative capitalism hits the wall of climate change. We can see the nomadic culture developing along a spectrum from improvised clusters of tents under bridges to RV campgrounds, co-housing and rural communes. The definition of “Home” is no longer strictly associated with housing. It has stretched to include the state of security and rest that is felt in the heart.

“As we come to understand the symmetry between the outer landscape and the inner wilderness, we can’t help but grieve the ways in which our own nature has been tampered with, denigrated, broken into obedience, and in many cases eradicated from memory. We begin to face the ways in which we are complicit in the slow apocalypse, within and without. Only from this place of loss and longing, can we begin remembering ourselves home.” ~ Excerpt from “Belonging” by Toko-pa Turner

In summary, our global situation is very comparable to living in the trenches of an ongoing, endless war, regardless of the kind of weaponry in use. People are dying unnecessarily, and the emotional PTSD from that existential truth has us in a deeply contracted state, almost as if there were a black hole at the center of our being that is eating us alive. We can only give up our panic-driven story for the faint possibility that peace might — just might — bring light, life and love into the darkness.


  1. Thank you for your courage to share your innermost thoughts and for sharing your compassion and generosity. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your humility.
    You are a special man.

  2. Yes, I feel this anxiety and grief constantly as I continue to do my best to express my dedication to interdependence by being a nanny in support of families, trying to get my children’s book published, and being a much a part of community as possible. I am sidelined with a broken ankle at the moment but have received a lovely sense of community support in return. But there is a grief over our larger human culture of greed and violence that scares me very much.

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