DAMPING THE FLAMES OF RAGE INSIDE MYSELF
Hal Pepinsky, firstname.lastname@example.org, skype name halpep, “peacemaking” at pepinsky.blogspot.com
April 19, 2013
A couple of days back, a dear correspondent of mine told me he was reading the biography of Martin Speer, and had concluded that there were mitigating circumstances in his crimes against humanity that should have merited a lower prison sentence. Today, as he responded to my objections to the very “game” of sentencing, I found his message telling me that he had only been playing a game himself. My first paragraph of response was unusually blunt: I charged him with making the “game” I knew more socially acceptable. And then, because I specially care not to hurt his feelings, I added a paragraph. I told my friend I was copying it for my blog. It is my response to those who believe that a peacemaker like me must just love everybody. I may love every life, but I don’t necessarily love what comes out of it. To any reader, I want you to know that I remain as pissed at the waste I know as human violence as I have been for as long as I have been a conscious political being. My paragraph to my friend offers some of the fuel that I have learned to accept will never stop being supplied to the violence I hate:
Please take this statement in the spirit in which I offer it, as I rarely do to anyone to anyone personally I am not being pretty intimate with. I'm not immune from anger. I feel deep anger at how in moments of violent hubris, as in the triple US assassinations of the 60s--JFK, MLK, RFK. I have the oversized JFK button I got volunteering for him, my last political prince, when I was 16, on the shelf over the beds in the guest house. JFK was probably going to take a serious shot at dismantling the military-industrial complex in his second term, and to withdraw from Vietnam. MLK was arousing resistance to US govt violence that swelled across race, class, and region. RFK led the white nation in mourning the death of MLK when he announced the death at a presidential political rally in the black section of Indianapolis, preventing a riot. I was so shaken up by the death of RFK (I was tuned live to his CA victory celebration when he was shot) that I forgot that I had my ethics interview for the OH bar exam the next morning (which ironically was D-Day, June 6). I called to apologize and reschedule. The receptionist was annoyed but obliging. On election night 1968, I was at Republican headquarters by the invitation of a 3rd-yr law classmate. All my idealism about organizing politically to make a better, more peaceful world here in the US pretty much collapsed when it turned out that old Red baiter, opportunist Nixon was the political prize it only took 3 bullets to win. But I couldn't stop the conviction my parents had drummed in to me repeatedly in childhood--aggression begets aggression. Rev. Bill Breeden gave me a way out of political resistance when he by example (only 1 to do time for Iran-Contra for "converting" the Poindexter st sign in Odon, Indiana, see Zinn, 587-88) when he told the alt. soc. control systems class about "guerrilla peacefare" as a way of life. So I channel my anger and really do feel pretty relaxed and happily alive, but my anger runs long and deep.
And may the humble yet indestructible force of love that JFK, MLK and RFK continue to represent in my own life be with us. Love and peace--hal