Our Summer of Dissonance

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary online, dissonance is defined as:

1 a: lack of agreement, the dissonance between the truth and what people want to believe; especially : inconsistency between the beliefs one holds or between one’s actions and one’s beliefs;
b: an instance of such inconsistency or disagreement; “the mingling of bitter comedy and stark tragedy produces sharp dissonances”— F. B. Millett

2: a mingling of sounds that strike the ear harshly : a mingling of discordant sounds; especially, music : a clashing or unresolved musical interval or chord.

Synonyms of dissonance include: conflict, disaccord, discord, discordance, discordancy, disharmony, dissension (also dissention), dissent, dissidence, disunion, disunity, division, friction, infighting, inharmony, schism, strife, variance, war, warfare.
(Citation: “Dissonance.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dissonance. )

As any skimming of news websites clearly shows, Dissonance is now the buzzword of our current times. Those of us living in the United States are immersed in our collective dissonance 24/7, with no relief save for turning off all devices, airplane mode or taking an off-grid getaway.

Case in point: President Trump travelled to Mount Rushmore National Monument on Friday, July 3, to hold a political rally for the Independence Day weekend. I guess one could argue it was a savvy marketing campaign—the backdrop for his barely veiled, White Supremist propaganda was the faces of four American presidents carved into the granite rocks of the monument. The link to the NYTimes article is here.

As America’s POTUS denounced “dangerous left-wing fascists” who are defacing “national heroes” by toppling many statues of White Supremists (including confederate heroes) across the country, he conveniently neglected to mention that the Coronavirus infection rate increased by 90% over the past couple of weeks. Dissonance. As the Trump administration continues its deliberate denial, fact twisting and blatant lying about the pandemic’s effects on all aspects of American life, the tones and cadences of dissonance reverberate ever louder throughout our collective souls.

Then there’s America’s national shame about racism that continues to lay bare the core wound of its founding and accumulation of wealth through the slavery of and violence against Black people. Since the George Floyd murder by police at the end of May, a tidal wave of protests, opinion pieces, journalists, political voices, writers, and scholars have clamored to amplify this collective moment of dissonance in the hopes that finally, finally, White people will get it. Systemic racism is everyone’s problem, perpetuated by White silence and complacency to the status quo. One of these voices, Marvin Blakely, a civil trial lawyer, in this weekend’s NYTimes opinion section, writes,

And how could I calmly describe how people of color are penalized for not knowing and adhering to the culture of white America, while no value is placed on our culture, which they so freely appropriate for profit? How do I help these friends understand that the solution to the race problem lies with them? Ultimately a conversation is just more talk. What about taking action, no matter how small?

If they truly wanted to be of help and have meaningful conversations, with me or anyone else, I decided to tell them, they should begin by acknowledging that the problem lies in the hearts and minds of them, their brothers, sisters, parents, and in-laws.

I told them that a conversation in which you acknowledged years of undeniable oppression and then suggested Black people “move on” was as offensive as taking no action and remaining silently complicit. After the acknowledgment, I would ask that they educate themselves (and others) and, before engaging in those conversations that white America suddenly finds necessary, listen. After completing Steps 1, 2 and 3, you are ready not just to talk, but to act in a manner consistent with our mutual humanity.

Dissonance. Discord. Disharmony. Dissolution. Disrespect. Disregard. Disease. Dis. The prefix is defined as: negation, reversal. It is undeniable to the vast majority of us by now that we are smack in the middle of a collective Dark Night of the Soul. Our collective soul is being forced to face its shadow. In Jungian terms, the shadow of the soul is made up of all the unresolved, denied, repressed, hidden and shamed elements of our ego. Until the shadow is exposed to the light of acknowledgment, clearly seen and somehow forgiven, it remains as a force of negation, a receptacle of humanity’s sewage. We are in the midst of shining the strongest, most piercing light yet on our collective, core wound and its devastating consequences on entire sections of the human race. This is the most important work we must collectively do now. No matter how frustrating, horrifying, nauseating, disgusting, or dirty, facing our collective shadow is imperative for healing the unspeakable wound we must all heal.

Dear Readers, the moment we are living through now defies description. Though many (including me) attempt to describe what we are facing, ultimately we are rendered speechless. The dissonance runs so deeply through the core of our humanity, that it is tearing us apart, quite literally. What can we do, how can we hold the dissonance without breaking into a million pieces?

One suggestion is to simply surrender and let the pain of our collective wound open you. You may experience what feels like dying, a pressure so tremendous that it is unbearable. Yet, if you are willing to let the forces of dissonance break you open, what you find within the heart of that pain will astound you. Rumi once wrote of a field that exists beyond the pain of the world. And that field absolutely exists, waiting eternally for anyone curious and brave enough to find it. It is a place of utter calm, of peace beyond human understanding, and of constant love. It is not far from each one. Just as the composer understands the supreme importance of silence within a symphony, we too must learn to understand the importance of finding the depth of wisdom within the heart of pain. Dissonance leads to eventual harmony when one is willing to do the work.

Keeping calm in times of crisis

When crisis comes, it’s critical to remember the calm center within, and hold onto that light for yourself and others.

Happy March 2020, Dear Readers. February was filled with intensity, crisis after crisis, and where I live, winter storms that came one after another. The world is now facing a pandemic via the outbreak of the Covid 19 strain of Coronavirus, which at the moment has entered about 60 countries, affected nearly a hundred thousand people, and killed several thousand. I’m not gonna lie, this is seriously scary news to deal with on all levels. Headlines over the weekend stated that people in the United States were buying up face masks in an effort to protect themselves, and the head of the Center for Disease Control has urged everyone to stop buying them, as fears increase that public health workers may not end up having the protective equipment they need in order to do their work.

In a moment of collective anxiety over the transmission of a potentially deadly virus such as this, it is easy to forget that humans live amongst all kinds of germs, viruses and bacteria 24/7. True, the vast majority of them don’t have the potential to kill us as we walk around in our daily lives. The past week brought the whole subject of germs and hygiene into sharp focus for me, so I thought I’d share a personal story with you.

As it happened, my eldest daughter who is in her mid-20s, became very ill with nausea, vomiting and severe intestinal pain early last week. After having a miserable night of suffering, her boyfriend brought her to the emergency room of our city’s central hospital the following morning. She spent most of the day in the ER, as the doctors took samples of blood and urine, and did a CT scan to figure out what was going on with her. They also gave her strong pain medicine, put her on IV drips for dehydration and antibiotics, and took turns coming into the room to let us know what they had found out throughout the afternoon. Turns out she had an unusual presentation of an appendicitis, along with extreme inflammation of her upper GI tract, which was obstructing the normal flow of her colon, causing severe abdominal pain. That evening she was admitted to the observation floor of the hospital, and moved to a room where nurses watched over her, administered medicine by IV and injections, and did what they could to make her comfortable for the following three nights and days. A surgical team of doctors checked in with us each morning, giving updates on her condition as we waited to see how she responded to the very strong antibiotics she was being given. Because of all the inflammation surrounding the appendix, the lead surgeon felt it would not be wise to perform an appendectomy right away. It became a waiting game as they sought to determine whether they should operate and remove her appendix. So my daughter spent the week in the hospital bed, suffering through many hours of pain, diarrhea, nausea, and just generally feeling pretty awful. She was not allowed to eat or drink any fluids for the first 24 hours, and then only allowed food, after two days of fasting, for a few hours before they restricted any more, thinking they would do exploratory surgery the next day.  Many more hours of no food nor drink followed; however, the doctors eventually decided not to do the surgery after taking a second CT scan two days after the first one.

My daughter is very fortunate in that she has a loving, caring family and friend group who were with her, often in shifts, throughout her hospital stay. I came each morning and stayed with her through the day. Her dad and sister came in the afternoons and stayed into the night. Her boyfriend came in the evening and stayed, sleeping in the lounger chair next to her bed at night. Friends came, bringing flowers, cards, various kinds of food and drinks in hopes she could eat and drink, told stories and made her smile. Slowly, her pain lessened, the inflammation was reduced, and by the end of the week she had improved to the point that the doctor put her on oral antibiotics and finally released her from the hospital.

This week was one of the most stressful I’ve experienced in many years. It was so unnerving to not know what was happening inside my daughter’s body and whether or not the doctors would perform the surgery, since it seemed they kept changing their minds. There were frustrating communication gaps between the lead doctor, her team, the nurses and the night resident who would come and give conflicting information to us. For the first part of her stay, every time a nurse or nurse assistant would come in the room, they put on disposable suits and wore masks over their faces. Only after a couple of days did we find out that was a precaution because they didn’t yet know if she had a contagious infection. Once the lab results came back negative on that, they stopped wearing those suits and masks each time they came in. Then there was the worry hanging over the atmosphere of “germs being everywhere,” while I became obsessed with handwashing and sanitizing everything I touched, like door handles, toilet flusher, faucet handles, and every surface became suspect of possibly holding harmful bacteria. I got so deep into the anxiety of germaphobia that I’d come home from the hospital at night and take off everything I wore, took super-hot showers, and started worrying about possible germs lurking in my own apartment. This past week was an In-My-Face example of examining how my thoughts contributed my state of consciousness and emotional state of being. The more I focused on the frightening germs that seemed to be everywhere within the hospital, the harder it became to remain calm and strong for my daughter’s healing process. I had distinct moments when I held my hands over her torso and tried with all my might to energetically suck the sickness from her and give it over to the healing angels whom I knew were also there with us in the hospital room. I believe it helped her somewhat to be in a state of prayer and meditation around her healing, along with all those antibiotics they kept pumping into her body. I know healing works on all levels—physical, mental, emotional and etheric. But for me personally, the most difficult part was fighting the irrational fear that kept cropping up of catching the bad germs that were all around us.

This personal story brings me back to the original point of this blog post—the Covid 19 epidemic that is sweeping through the world, and especially the collective fear that its presence is bringing so palpably into focus. For so many centuries of our collective memory, we have fought epidemics of one horrible disease after another. The fear of death and suffering through contagious diseases is still alive within our DNA, so how can we best fight those fears and evolve beyond them? Because that is exactly what we must do now. Dear Readers, I don’t have a solid answer to these concerns, other than to keep realizing that we are powerful beings of light having a human experience in these most extraordinary times. We must trust that kind, helpful, smart humans are all around us, helping those of us who become ill. The angelic realm is always here, ready to help us as soon as we remember to ask for support. The vast majority of the time, we do have the strength and courage to look our fears in the eye, and realize that fear is the old acronym—false evidence appearing real. We are powerful, and the more light we can gather, ground and radiate out to the world, the more inoculated we become against the world’s ills and disease. So, as the past week showed me so clearly, the most important thing we can each do is to keep calm and do what we can to be the steady presence for others, no matter what arises.