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Some Thoughts on Guns and Violence

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Yesterday, I shared a video on my Facebook page from a hand-held camera capturing the police killing a second young black man in St. Louis with nine shots. I shared it in the spirit of sharing truth, however ugly, to create change.  I watched the video several times, and each time the loud burst of gunfire from police officers filled me fear.  It is a horrible sound.  This morning, I read an opinion piece in The Guardian about that very video, and after further thought, decided to take my post down.  How necessary is it to share a man’s death so easily on social media.  To motivate change, provide awareness,yes, but as we all know, our attention on posts and the amount of snippets of information is small and fleeting, in a world where we too frequently turn to Wikipedia for a summary instead of library research.  My next post on Facebook, posted this morning, also came from The Guardian, and it was an appreciation of musician Kate Bush. This is what I mean by fleeting.

In the novel I am working on, a character easily and unremorsefully kills his victims with a handgun.  I found myself interested in this character, because he is so different from my sari-clad grandmothers, and young women grappling with living in a global community usually populating my books.  I let him be a madman who hears God, and his murders are a result of what he sees as divine instruction.  That is who we expect our killers to be: madmen; misguided, angry, powerless people with guns; family members seeking revenge, using bullets for language.  Not policemen.  Not the people my mother always told me to go seek help from if I were lost or in trouble.

I grew up in the culture of Vietnam, Watergate, Dr. King’s and President Kennedy and his  brother’s assassinations, the FBI harassment of Yoko Ono, among others. I grew up with tremendous mistrust of those in power, beginning with my parents.  Yet over the years, every time I see a policeman, I think of what my mother told me.  Other mothers told their sons to always call a policemen “Officer,” or “Sir.”  Be as respectful as possible because the deck was already loaded against them because of skin-color.

It was anger and passion that makes a man shoot someone multiple times, not just once.   How does one react in a crisis?  I know I have snapped verbally or been sarcastic towards airport ticket agents (before 9-11, that is) and I know I have gotten so angry at fellow drivers that I once drove straight to a bookstore after catching myself cursing at the rear-view mirror to get a book on Anger Management.  (When you read a book called Anger on a train, people are very polite towards you, and don’t want to sit next to you, I found.)

Anger, rage, and violent passion.

 

 

A tangle of trees, a host of sunflowers

 

Indira Ganesan, Bright Yellow Flower, 2014

Indira Ganesan, Bright Yellow Flower, 2014

Today I was stuck in the subway for forty-five minutes, going from one line to the next.  Last week, though, I took a walk, and was very unstuck.

 

Thinking of Wordsworth, I came upon a host of sunflowers;

Indira Ganesan, Host of Golden Sunflowers, 2014

Indira Ganesan, Host of Golden Sunflowers, 2014

I did not neglect Virginia Woolf,

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the salt,

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the sand,

Indira Ganesan, Sand Bar, 2014

Indira Ganesan, Sand Bar, 2014the sea

the sea,

 

 

 

 

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All this beauty where I live.

 

R.I.P. Mr. BK.S. Iyengar

Today is Another in a Series of such Days

Indira Ganesan, Bounty, 2014

Indira Ganesan, Bounty, 2014

 

A marmalade cat strolls out of the woods pleased as Punch

makes his way up the path, and disappears into the woods again. He is fat, plump on

more than just mice, his tail tipped with white.

There is a hint of autumn in the wind on this day, perfect as a picture.

Three weeks left before Labor Day.

The paper has been read and discarded,

and it so quiet. The traffic is muted,but there,

it begins again,

as the voices rise and fall in the distance as people make plans.

A sunflower

volunteers itself up in my garden, readying to bloom.

Mountain

Indira Ganesan, One Day's Close, 2014

Indira Ganesan, One Day’s Close, 2014

How do you celebrate a life passed? On May 19, Dr. Vincent Harding, noted historian, civil rights leader, educator, peace activist, passed away at age 83. July 25-26 was declared the Vincent Gordon Harding Memorial a Weekend in Colorado, marking what would have been Dr. Harding’s 84th birthday.

I met Dr. Harding in 2003 I think when I traveled to Denver to meet my dear friend Rachel. Her mother, the late Rosemary Freeney Harding, and I had been Bunting Fellows together in 1997-8, although that commonality between us seems hardly believable, given the wealth of Rosemary’s talents and wisdom. Rachel had accompanied her mother that year, and the three of us spend good company that year in Cambridge, working in colorful Victorian cottages, and attending afternoon seminars given on art, science, and peace work.

“Hello, my sister,” was Dr. Vincent Harding’s usual greeting, and I immediately became family.

The first part of the memorial began with prayers in , and I could have been listen to a priest chanting in Sanskrit, the same reciting of words in a cadence that was steady, sonorous, and ancient. English does not have this power, because it lacks invocations, and even its prayers have a passion that is more be searching than declarative. Kodo drummers led us out in fierce, loud drumbeats into the night. Yesterday, Aztec dancers began a four-hour long interfaith service, with a choral counterpart, and testimonies of the enormous influence Dr. Harding had not only Martin Luther King’s life, but in the lives of his numerous students, “nieces and nephews” who learned non-violent communication, community-building, and the use of tools to build a more just and peaceful society.

My memories of Dr. Harding are vivid from a trip his family and I took to Bahia and Rio de Janeiro. In the mornings, we sought American-sized cups of coffee, to the consternation of hotel staff, and Dr. Harding sang a song about “an awful lot of coffee in Brazil. Singing was instrumental to his work, and song and dance was an integral part of his workshops on black power and freedom. Singing also eased his way to the next life, aided by his daughter and son. My deep respect to a great man whose loss will be felt heavily in this world.

 

Izzy Turns One, Ocean might be Two

Indira Ganesan, Mother & Daughter, 2014

Indira Ganesan, Mother & Daughter, 2014

So, my cats. As many of you know, I fostered a family of four kittens and their mom for a few months last fall. They lived at first in my separate studio while making sure they were not infected with ringworm( they weren’t) before moving into my home. And move in, they did. Scrambling onto the computer, checking out the windows, the sofas, claiming spots, developing personalities. One liked to sleep on the upside down lap desk propped against my table; another slept with her sister head to foot. One liked to hide in boxes, and their mom sought refuge in spaces near the ceiling, atop the kitchen cabinets, or the transom of the window. They wriggled, purred, fought and cuddled their way into my heart. As they were adopted, my heart would give out a little. My sweet allergic niece decided she liked Izzy’s photo the best, and so I kept Izzy, and her mom.

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I am still not sure how I wound up with the mom, but her name is Ocean. From five felines to two, my days spin around them. I wake at four, battling with Izzy who is busy tearing up the lining of my box spring. It is a task she looks forward to. We go back and forth for an hour and get up at a more respectable hour.

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They have grown this past year, Ocean filling out, and Izzy as well. Now Izzy will be a year old, and my teen-mom Ocean might turn two Sunday.

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It’s mostly about food, and napping, and sleeping.

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There is also the adorableness factor.

 

 

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