Posts Tagged ‘Peace’

Romance

September 18, 2017

I have been thinking lately of romance. It is not because I have met someone. In fact, it is just the opposite. I have not met somebody in a long time and I am alright with that. It is not that I am settling for something less than I want, either. I have never really pursued a romantic relationship in my life so far. I remember being at summer camp when we had dances with our sister camp Camp Netimus. We would travel to their territory or they would travel to ours. Under a big pavilion, we would have loud eighties and nineties music played at us and we would be expected to exist there until it was time to go to bed.

The first few times, I was bored out of my skull. I hung out with my friends but there was nothing to do. I wanted to sit and write or read or play Gameboy but it was not allowed. It was too loud to have a proper conversation. My friends urged me to start asking girls to dance. I had no interest in doing this. I love girls. I am attracted to girls. However, I felt like I was pressured into asking girls to dance. I did it poorly, I’m sure. For whatever reason, the majority of them did not want to dance with me. It was humiliating at the time to ask and get a no each time. Mostly because I did not want to ask in the first place. That probably showed.

When a girl did say yes, I had no idea what to do and I was so self-conscious and shy. I moved around like she did but my introversion made it hard to feel anything other than a nonexistent searing-hot spotlight. After a song or two, I would thank the girl and never see her again. I do not remember their faces. Somehow I remember their names even less. I remember that they were kind to me and I was not unkind to them but I probably left the impression of a shy, uncoordinated boy. I also remember asking a female counselor to dance (she looked young!) and her declining politely. Instead, she proposed a group dance, a construct used by middle school dances everywhere.

When it came to school dances, I was friends with a group of nerds, geeks, and outcasts and so we were more interested in fooling around and having fun rather than going after the girls. At that point, girls were friends and not potential romantic partners. It was a hormonal time so there was a lot of physical attraction but I never pursued anything romantic. I remember very clearly looking at one particular girl who I thought was pretty. I had gone to the same school as her for nine years. I thought that she would be the one that I would date if I was going to date. I knew nothing about her. I just thought that everyone was dating and that, as a point of pride, I should probably be dating. Thankfully, I never pursued that. It was such twisted thinking.

College was a time of crushes. There were many crushes that drew me in and were really fun to think about and even obsess over. For the most part, they were fun and nice young women who treated me well. There was one who probably easily figured out my secret crush. She definitely played with me. I would have done a lot for her. She said I should shave my hair and get a tattoo. I said I thought that was a good idea. But even looking back I cannot see myself spending a portion of every day with her. It was physical attraction and the desire for love in general, not romantic love. I wanted to feel special. That kind of thing is not real to me anymore.

That is to say, if somebody comes along that inspires real and romantic love then I will pursue it. However, I am not really looking for it. I like my life. Well, I like what my life is becoming. I am bettering myself every day through therapy, exercise, and general self-improvement. I really enjoy living alone and being alone and entertaining myself. I venture out every so often to hang out with friends and laugh and connect. I think that is exactly what I need right now.

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Quaker School

April 20, 2017

I will not show you the picture of the killer. This is the man he killed, though.

A little while ago there was a news story where a white military veteran traveled to New York City specifically to kill a black person. He succeeded and killed an innocent man who lived a life of charity and nonviolence. Even if the man he murdered had been a horrible person, it still would not have been right. The police said that the killer was racist since he was a little boy. To my horror, it was brought to my attention that this crazy man was from Baltimore, my hometown. Further, not only was he from Baltimore but he was also a student at the school I went to for twelve years. Friends School of Baltimore is a private school just inside the city lines, situated near a lot of other private schools. The killer went to Friends six years behind me so I never knew him and he is also younger than my brothers who also briefly went to Friends.

I spent twelve years here and it had such an impact on my life.

The news that this man went to the same school as me is baffling. You see, Friends School is very well-known in this area for being a good school with good values. While Bill Clinton was president, he and Hillary Clinton sent their daughter Chelsea to a Friends School nearer Washington DC which was very similar. Friends is a Quaker school which is nothing to sneeze at because Quaker is more than a religion in my eyes. Like Buddhism, Quakerism is a way of looking at and dealing with the world and the inner self. Quakers are by and large non-violent, anti-war, and seek simplicity in all things. We worked to be humble but also to use your gifts to leave the world a little better than you found it.


Our school song.

More than that, we learned how to identify with other people. I may have lived through a slightly sheltered childhood but I learned how to listen to all sides and all groups in a situation. I was also exposed to diversity. I met people from all sorts of backgrounds. There were families from so many varied ethnicities and fellow students of a whole rainbow of skin colors. We were taught about the civil rights movement, we talked about the LA riots, and we learned about the Holocaust too. In every lesson we had, if racism was present then it was a villain in the story. Our teachers made it absolutely clear that our human journey should not only be filled with tolerance but acceptance and love as well. We were not taught to be wide-eyed, naive students but we were told to do our best to love other people.

Imagine this, filled with people and stare at it in silence. Speak if the spirit moves you.

Peace was a prized experience that Friends gave me.  Once a week we walked up as a class to what was called Meeting.  Quakers do not have an experience similar to other religious organizations.  The room is full of benches in rows but not all of them were facing the same way.  There was no central focus to the room because there were no sermons or bible lessons.  For the most part, we sat in silence.  When the spirit moved you, you could stand up and talk about something you were thinking about.  Being little kids and then awkward teenagers, very few of us ever stood up to say anything but it was nice having a peaceful half hour to just sit and think.  It made me value peace even in the midst of a chaotic day.


Embedded into the wall of one of the Baltimore meeting houses.

So, wherever this killer got this racism and hate from, he did not get it from the school I went to.  If anything, the school has gotten more even more progressive in the years since I went there.  If this man claims to have had such virulently racist thoughts since he was a kid, I wonder how he felt going to Friends where he was told repeatedly that he was on the wrong side of history.  He was in the Army, and I wonder what effect that had on his psyche.  There are so many factors that it is difficult to parse out why he did what he did.  All I know is that Friends has nothing to apologize for.


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