Toxic Masculinity Will Kill Us All

“And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” – Yeats
(Created by author with Nightcafe AI image generator.)

Per The Washington Post, “Not a single week in 2022 has passed without at least four mass shootings [in the US].” The article defines a mass shooting as 4 or more people being injured or killed. These facts need no other words to illustrate the state of our nation today.

Over 600 mass shootings have taken place so far in 2022 in mass shootings, with the numbers increasing every year since 2017. And for each life lost, imagine the mothers, fathers, children, grandchildren, families and friends left behind, their lives and psyches ripped apart for their lifetimes. And we do not have the mental healthcare or the social safety nets to provide for these broken lives.

At the COP 27 environmental summit, no steps were taken by world leaders to cut emissions, leaving our world on track to the temperature tipping point at which the Earth will cease to become habitable. Meanwhile, little man Putin continues his barbaric shelling of Ukraine. Europe has not seen such a level of violence since the Second World War. Another little fat man in North Korea has developed ICBMs capable of reaching the Eastern United States. And young women and teens are being brutalized by the Iranian regime for showing hair.

And when I say leaders, men, and regime, I squarely lay this destruction of life at the feet of the supposedly “Masculine.” The “toxic masculinity” that we have all heard of.

It never occurred to me to consider the term deeply enough to realize that toxic means poisonous and deadly. Because toxic masculinity kills. It kills wives. Breaks up families. Rapes. Molests, beats, and kills children at school, church, in their own homes. It lays waste to all life without regard. It is what George Harrison called “I, I, Me, Me, Mine.” It’s the single unit, the fragile ego, the individual without regard for the lives that surround and help sustain it. Without regard for its own life, on a trajectory to collide with and explode all that is good, wholesome, and beneficial.

I fully realize that these traits can be found outside of the cis-male. But it is the cis-male who can and does do the most damage. It is woven so deeply into the fabric of human life that it is difficult to recall a time when its deathly touch was not felt. But it hasn’t been and needn’t be the only way to survive. In fact, it is an excellent way to prohibit survival: of individuals, families, the Earth that sustains us, the survival of our species.

Darwin never used the term “survival of the fittest.” That was devised to debunk his theories as “the law of the jungle” — the antithesis of civilization. All a species needs to do to survive is to continue having children who go on to have children. And the success of modern humans has always been the result of our ability to live in large groups cooperatively. This increased our lifespans, which allowed the community’s older members to watch all the children while women and men worked. Everyone, every life, matters to our continuing existence in this world. Survival of any species is not about any one individual, it is a numbers game.

The enemy of life is the man who thinks he is an island. Who believes his life, desires, whims must all be satisfied to the detriment of others. He must have all the wealth, the power, the sexual partners he desires. He can hurt, wound, kill at his pleasure. He believes there should be no repercussions for what he perceives as his right or “freedom.”

It is true that freedom is not free. There will always be consequences. The man who beats his wife and children creates broken children, who grow up to repeat the cycle ad infinitum. These violent, angry, arrogant, and selfish men are never satisfied, and will never stop until we are all dead, in our dead world.

Toxic means deadly. And until the good men and women stand up to these killers of all things beautiful and life-sustaining, we are a doomed species on a doomed world. None of us alone can change this. Yes, we need to change our culture. We need more access to mental healthcare, more help and advocacy for the damaged, broken, weak and innocent, more respect for our only home in the vast Universe, to end this destruction. But we also must all do our part, and begin the change within and with everyone we encounter in our short stay here. Or we become accessory to this murder of humanity and its spirit.

The lucky few may hang on a bit longer. Surviving inside barricades, while others do the dangerous business of getting groceries. And there will be no more human voices or sounds of joy from churches, schools, baseball fields, theaters, or even our own homes. There will be no one left.

“Better recognize your brothers
Everyone you meet
Why in the world are we here?
Surely not to live in pain and fear?” – Instant Karma, John Lennon

Namaste, you legends. Go forth in love.

– JL โœŒ๐Ÿผโค๏ธ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ๐ŸคŽ๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿค๐Ÿ––๐Ÿผ๐ŸŒป

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Meditation to Soothe Physical Pain

Created with Nightcafe AI.

We often think of kindness as something we extend to others to soothe their mental or physical suffering, and to help restore their sense of well-being and happiness. But we generally don’t consider the equal power of being kind to ourselves. In fact, we are normally the last person we consider being kind to. Imagine being able to soothe yourself and your own pain. Wouldn’t you then become a kinder person overall?

I have recurring headaches that can last for days due to a neck injury. What I have learned from meditating with my own physical pain is that pain comes in two forms. The first is the actual pain itself, whether from sickness, a chronic condition, or injury. The other part of pain is the mental and emotional distress we experience. Everyone naturally has an aversion to pain. We may fear the pain or its recurrence, try to push it from our minds, or use unhealthy responses such as numbing pain with alcohol.

In mindfulness meditation we attempt to connect with what is now. Usually we use the breath to connect our physical body and mind to the present moment. Noticing what exists right now for us.

This is the first step to healing through meditation. Although the process can take many forms, first we must be present and tuned into how we are.

This process is accompanied with detachment from our own judgement and a sense of curiosity. For me this would mean lying down on my bed or on a mat, making sure I was comfortable and warm, and noticing my breath. Is it shallow? Can I breathe more deeply? Can I lengthen my breaths?

The next step, would be to scan the body for tightness, pain, or whatever is present. It helps me to imagine I’m examining something besides myself, to be somewhat detached. Once the area of pain is noted, we do something very strange.

We don’t try to fix it. We let ourselves feel that pain. Build a mental image of it, let it grow, feel what is going on in your body and mind in all its intensity. This is how we begin to acknowledge our pain and not push it down or fight it. We let ourselves truly feel it, and any associations that pain may have for us. We can even assign it names or describe it.

Once we have allowed ourselves to feel our pain and examined it, we can begin the process of relieving it. And this process is relaxation. There are different techniques, but I generally focus on a completely relaxing, beautiful, and stress-free visualization. You may imagine yourself floating in cool water, with the sun on your face, or whatever makes you feel relaxed. You can imagine a darkened room, with the smell of the sea drifting in on the breeze, revelling in the most comfortable bed and sheets and comforters. A cup of tea. Smells. Sensations.

Make your experience of relaxation as real as possible. Are there trees? What kind? Are they swaying in the wind? Maybe you have trouble imagining everything but can remember a feeling of complete relaxation in your life. Soak yourself in this experience of soothing relaxation.

You can set a timer with music or peaceful sounds, or you can follow a guided meditation. When you are ready, you may begin to feel yourself returning to your body after treating it to a sense of comfort and ease. Or you may fall asleep. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is how you feel when you come back into the present moment and your body. Can you feel a loosening? Perhaps a quiet or calm? What is your pain level now? Has it changed?

What you have done is not magic. You didn’t cure your illness, but you have removed the second element of physical pain, the avoidance and all the stress that comes when we push away negative feelings. We have listened to what our body is trying to tell us, to rest and to relax. We have felt our pain, and then shown ourselves kindness by giving comfort and ease to our body.

I practice this method with my headaches. I used to be so pain adverse that I wanted to pound my head against a wall to make them stop. I still feel that way. But through this meditation technique, I have been able to calm my screaming nerves, and given myself a break from the pain. Maybe enough to have a wonderful nap. Or to refresh myself before dinner. Before bed.

It doesn’t matter when or how or for how long you practice this method. What matters is that you have given your mind and body just a few moments of kindness. If we can make tea or be there for someone else in pain, why shouldn’t we tend to ourselves? By doing so, we can be better able to show up for others and for life.

If you’re interested in trying this type of meditation, you can search Spotify, your music or podcast platform, Google or YouTube for terms like “guided meditation for healing/pain” or “guided relaxation for pain.” All I can say is that this technique helps me, and hope you will try it and that it helps you be a bit kinder to yourself, learn to listen to your body, and soothe yourself for a better quality of life.

Namaste legends!

– JL โœŒ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ––๐Ÿผ

Check out myย Instagram!! And connect with me on Facebookย hereย andย here.

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I am Human and I Need to Love.

We all need comfort, love, and thankfulness right now. This is a blog about those precious things, and finding, in the end, what truly matters.

Around twelve, I realized that pop radio stations were no longer playing music that meant anything to me. This coincided with two other catastrophes, puberty and a move in the middle of the school year. I had never been popular. But at least I shared the “my parents moved from Philadelphia” and even the partial Italianess that most of my South Jersey peers did.

We moved to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Home of the Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch (who are German). It was rural. It was conservative. And it was heavily Evangelical Christian. It was a lonely time. Until I discovered Morrissey. And he hasn’t left me since.

When I first saw him on MTV with his band, The Smiths, he exuded this vulnerable, anti-macho, yet aggressive form of “It.” There he was, singularly beautiful yet awkward in his gangly beanstalk body with his institutional glasses. Dressed in thrift store blouses and costume jewelry, he warbled his witty lyrics and literary allusions as cover to his air punching fists. He flagellated pain and cruelty with bouquets of flowers. He created anthems dedicated to hanging DJs who played music that didn’t speak to his life and the savagery of our mistreatment of animals. He wrote lullabyes for his nephew. Used words like “Mother” and “Dad” without negative connotations. Described his sexual tension and longing with gender swapping lyrics and words like “conjugal bed” and wanting to get his hands “on your mammary glands.” He sang in falsetto, his natural baritone, he yodelled and laughed and sighed his songs.

He embodied everything the rock of the day was not. He was clean cut, shy, British, declared himself celibate, lamented the sadness of his post-industrial home town, and the cruelty of romantic love. He was the friend you’d hang out with in your room on long afternoons listening to music, just talking or not.

As I grew, so did he. More mature, growing into his six foot frame, writing torch songs so vulnerable that I could only imagine Sinatra with his tough guy image tackling. But it didn’t seem to bother Morrissey. He let people gossip about his sexuality, while remaining wisely mum. Anyone could love him however they wanted. He had no labels. He was his own.

“Dear hero in prison with all the new crimes that you are perfecting, Oh! I can’t stop quoting you because everything that you said rings true.”

And the music developed. He worked on his voice, all three octaves of it. He wrote about the fame killers received and chatting up hair stylists in order to snag an appointment with the same level of irony and aggressively free and unerring pop sensibility. He laughed at himself. He wrote songs that predicted where his life would go, comparing his music to a used condom that you may fondly remember from those momentous days when music and love were everything to a young heart. 

He committed the most elegant, unsparing, and gorgeously lush midlife crisis ever to disc in Vauxhall and I. Families broke up, old friends went their separate ways, and there were folks waiting to use you, hoping for you to fail, or waiting for you to die. It’s a perfect album. But then he just kept going.

“There’s going to be some trouble. A whole house will need rebuilding. And everyone I love in the house will recline on an analyst’s chair quite soon.”

He worked with Ennio Morricone (composer of spaghetti western soundtracks such as The Good the Bad and The Ugly) and his orchestra at the iconic Cine Cittรก studios in Rome. He never ceased to experiment, adjust and develop his voice, or call things as he saw them, which he lampshaded in the early tune Big Mouth Strikes Again.

But, while he changes, he’s still the same deeply weird dude whipping gladioli around his head. Except now he’s a man who loves his nephews and nieces, mourns his mother’s passing, and contemplates the passing of time and mortality marginally more than he did before. He loves his fans. His fans love him. It may be his most enduring love affair.

And I’m one of those fans. I designed a full-sized flag of him to hang from a pole. He’s all the flag I’m willing to fly. I keep his albums, CDs and cassettes like the day I bought them. I have his Funko Pop doll. Tee shirts and buttons too numerous to count. And of course my hair is faded, and I can style it up in that 50s pompadour.

But why? Why would a grown person be so silly for a pop singer? Because he steals from Oscar Wilde and Kurt Vonnegut? Because he uses words like “sycophantic” or calls out Oliver Cromwell in a rock songs? Because he sings about his shoes looking shabby or his hair being flattened by rain? Because his voice exudes warm, buttery depth and wraps you up in a warm velveteen blanket?

“Freedom is wasted on me. See how your rules spoil the game?”
“You have never been in love until you’ve seen the stars reflect in the reservoirs.”

That’s all part of it. But he has always been there for me, too. Through my teens, when my Dad died, after my Dad died, and beyond. And yet he’s temptingly forbidden.

How does a “nice young man” become forbidden? Well, because Gen X dudes still think it’s OK to use “gay” as a put down. Because Rage Against the Machine and Wu Tang possibly appeal more to young men than Morrissey’s underhanded, self-aware self-deprecating style. Because of the absolute shit-fit the media throws at whatever happens out of his unguarded mouth.

“I have forgiven You Jesus for all of the love You placed in me when there’s no one I can turn to with this love.”

Before I married my x, he liked Morrissey and The Smiths, but that door closed as he was drawn deeper into alcohol and cocaine, mainly. Then he decided to hit me, a lot. His irrational hatred of vegetarians, which included me to a point. I couldn’t have anything or anyone for myself that I loved and made life worthwhile to me. Not even the music that comforted and saved me. I wasn’t “allowed” to listen to Morrissey. But I did. In secret. Which is why those jewel cases, albums, and cassettes remain intact. You don’t cut drugs on Morrissey’s face. Not on my watch.

I’m not being dramatic by declaring that Morrissey saved my life. Not just then, but in the horrific period when I left x. When I began seeing an old friend. And since. Whenever I felt sad. Felt alone. Felt angry at life’s vagueries. Or just sticking it to The Toxic in a decidedly British by way of Dublin fashion. When I felt most alone, when I howled into the void, Morrissey could get through to me. If I’m depressed, Morrissey commiserates, and then throws in some fun, danceable pop, laughing at something, anything, until I am up singing and dancing with him.

Life right now feels like The Pit of Despair in Princess Bride. The machine that sucked years of your life out of you. Or the ancient curse, “May you live in interesting times.” So maybe I need to soothe myself with what I love. And cherish them.

All of that. Because what comforted me and i cherish most is that friend I dated. We’ve been together now longer than I was with x. And I have never been able to actually see The Mozzfather in concert. Ever. But Morrissey will be appearing near us, and my guy got us tickets.

“And when you’re standing on my fingers, Ah — can you see it in your heart?”

I haven’t placed any expectations on the show, entitled “An Evening with Morrissey.” I’m even attempting to manage my expectations that he’ll sing that night. He’s never been the show must go on type. No, this feels more like a pilgrimage. For the experience of Morrissey up close and real. If I were Catholic, he’d be the Pope.

He takes gifts from his audience from the stage, signs autographs, and hugs stage crashers before security ushers them off. I’ve wondered what I would do, bring or say if I had a chance. I’d definitely take the hug. I’d probably thank him. After all, don’t I have the thing he sings about wanting most?

I have love. I will hug and thank my dearest friend and partner, Stan. For buying the tickets, for knowing what it would mean to me, but also because he is the man who has stayed by me for real. Because somehow, two wrongs make a right with us. Thank you, my handsome Stanman.

Thanks to Moz for getting me to Stan.

-JL โœŒ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ––๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ’

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