burning

How?

…as I walked away I wondered how it had become so easy? The smoke didn’t really bother me. It was just a step away from who I used to be…I’ll miss Aj but, she was just another witch…

*****

I wondered how I got to this place? I always thought I was a nice guy.  I don’t suppose that matters anymore…I always knew Aj was my friend. We were from the very start. Some people just become friends. They are destined to be. We started off a bit rough but, after a bit, things smoothed out. It’s like we’ve been friends all our lives. I mean, she told me she was a witch but that didn’t really matter.

It wasn’t really her fault that she was one. Besides, who really cared? I mean, sure, some people treated her like s**t but, she really didn’t complain. She just took it and went on because that was what happens to witches, right? Just keep your mouth shut and accept it, right? Anyway, she KNEW she wasn’t quite good enough but, I didn’t hold that against her.

That’s what we were told and, after awhile, we believed it. They ARE different…other…

After that, it was easy. We got along as long while she stayed in her place. I had to remind her of that a few times but she learned. As time went on, she got used to the idea that those things “just happened” and that I would never do anything worse. I didn’t expect to and besides, how much worse can it get for someone who’s future is Hell?

The first steps were the hardest for me. We had eaten together. I had cooked dinner and let her into my house and told her that she was my best friend.

That’s ok. I was wrong. How could a Christian be best friends with a heathen? Once I figured out that answer, I couldn’t, lying to her was easy. All I had to do was keep going on like things were still the same. Act like the subtle insults and slights were accidents. Just play the fool and keep her trust? It isn’t really lying or wrong if it’s to a witch because she’s not Christian, is it?

I’ll miss her…of course, I miss me, too…

*****

*wipes eyes*

When you read that section, do not believe that I believe those words about her.

I had to go back and try to figure out how an “ordinary person”, like me.could do what Burning Aj did. I really don’t want to ever revisit that post.

I have often thought I could not be a criminal profiler, these posts are why. To do that job you have to understand the madness. You have to visit a dark place and look back.

Leaders teach hate to gain power. They say, “see them” to distract from their own evils. Ordinary people follow along because it’s always easier to be an “us” than “one of them”. We find safety in the herd. We just gradually wander into evil, never realizing we’re doing it. We smell the smoke and are glad it’s someone else…

*****

This is the last of 3. In order, the other two are Burning Aj and Why?. This one does not make sense without the other two. If you read this one, please read or have read, the first. It doesn’t make sense without it. The second two explain the first.

Also, please, please understand. I HATE the first one. In my mind’s eye, it happened in my own yard and it hurts. I set it there and made myself see it that way so this would not be some casual exercise with words. I hope that my grief over what didn’t really happen comes through. I hope you never have to put your mind in the place I went. I did it that way because if I am going to put Aj into these three, it is only fair that there is some real cost to me for doing it…

Aj, I love you. Period.

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Why?

Yesterday I wrote “Burning Aj”. I posted it without a word to explain it. I won’t link it here but, you can look it up. It was, from this side, the writing side, the most painful thing I have ever typed…including writing about my own monsters from being an addict.  By the end of that “story” I could, and still can see my very best friend burning …by my own hand. To be clear, that hurt. It was supposed to hurt. I knew when I was writing it that it would…I didn’t know how much.  It was intended as allegory. It was supposed to try to explain the Burning Times and how that could happen again. It was an attempt to try to understand how someone could do something that horrific to their best friend. What it did was to scar MY soul. I’ll probably be paying for it for a long time…

There are 2, two, people in the world that I am sure that I would trade places with if that story were true, my wife and Aj. Period. I am NOT brave or noble. I am not “sure” that I would even make the trade for my family. I am a coward. Two lives that I know are more valuable to me than my own…and I burned one of them to make a point…and I can still smell the gasoline…and see the match…and hate myself for doing it.

Why did I do it?

Because we follow The Crowd. I did it to try to understand how we could see a neighbor or a best friend and allow that to happen. How it is possible to depersonalize someone?How can we participate? How can we subject someone else to that? How is it possible to ignore what someone is?
“She’s a witch, That means she’s NOT a person. It doesn’t matter what I do to a witch because they don’t matter. It’s not like they’re “real people”. Besides, everyone else treats them like shit. What does it matter what I do to one? They’re. Not. Real. People. .. Even if they were, it doesn’t mean anything, she’s just a witch. She’s gonna bun eventually, this is just a head start. Practice, in a manner of speaking…”
That IS how it happens. The Crowd says that and we come to believe it. We teach ourselves and convince ourselves that “they” are not real people…We willingly blind ourselves to what we know to be true.

Another of the most coldly horrible things I’ve ever seen quoted was the Camp Commandant at Auschwitz saying that he punished guards for tormenting the people they were going to send to the gas chambers because their job was to execute them, not to torture them. He explained that it was like killing rats…” our job was to exterminate”.

I have tried to use this page as a way to help show the humanity of people that are seen by some others as less than human. I want to convince people to see ALL of someone, Aj. I wish you could see what I see. I wish you could share the memory of a hug that I got from her. I wish you could hear her voice. I hope you never have to know what writing something like that does to you. I wish you may see that she’s not “just a witch”. She never was. She never will be. She IS my best friend and happens to be a witch. I love her dearly.

Burn the Witch

“A Witch, burn her”…

It’s odd how a smart aleck comment as a Facebook status may start a different path. The reply was “some of your closest friends are Witches”…

I was just trying to be funny. I didn’t even think Witches were real. I sort of knew the history but, thought it was hysteria during a fearful time. I didn’t know they still existed. I had even less of a clue that the person that would become my closest friend is one…

Sometimes people change our basic assumptions. I assumed Aj was Christian. I expected that because we share the same basic morality and value set. I took it for granted that she was Christian expecting that those values came from the same “faith”. I was not correct. We do not share the same faith.

It’s odd that she did not set out to change my world view but, did. We’ve talked about it lately. She HAD to reply with the truth and take the chance that I would be pushed away. It seems that we were both coming to the same conclusion, that we could be “best friends”…even without the other knowing that thought was occurring. She risked pushing me away to tell the truth…She almost did…and it would have been my loss…

Sometimes, I am unknowingly hurtful and cruel. I say things, trying to be “cute”, that are anything but…I attempt to be clever…and fail. We ALL do.

How was I to know that one comment would be one of those times…and begin a journey that would draw me closer to the target of that comment. The path God chooses for us is not visible until after we’ve walked it.

There’s no inflection or tone of voice on a screen. What you see are words written in black and white. You don’t get to hear the emotion in what I’m thinking. I wish you could. There are very few things I regret in my life. I am grateful for the addiction I carried for so many years because those years shaped who I am now. “Anguish” is too strong a word. “Regret” doesn’t quite convey what I am trying to express. “Sadness” also isn’t quite right because the flippant comment did work out…

Once upon a time, when Christianity was the “cult” and we were living in the catacombs and crevices of society, before we started to grow, while we were the upstart infants, Pagans were the dominant culture. While we were crawling around hiding from the Romans and convincing ourselves of our own worth, Pagan kings ruled Europe. Pagan craftsman and jewelers created weapons, implements, and artwork. They knew the heavens and stars. They had agriculture and commerce. Their works of engineering still stand. Their herbalists found treatments we still use today for conditions our quacks would “bleed” you for…

We, Christians, see “The Wizard of Oz” and mock the Witch, “I’m melllllting…” We watch reruns of “Bewitched”. We look at popular culture, that Monty Python reference comes to mind…and we forget…

…we forget that we DID burn Witches. We forget that the Pagan kings of Europe invited us in and gave us safety. We repaid them with persecution and murder. We forget that when we were twelve guys following Jesus, they were millions. We forget that we took over their Holy Days and assimilated their culture while keeping the bits we wanted and claimed that we were the origin. We ignore that we forced them to hide and live in the catacombs and crevices of society. We disparage and downplay the horror of the trials and the burnings and executions by saying “that was then, this is now”…

They have not forgotten…and I don’t blame them for remembering…

It’s a wonder to me that Aj didn’t push me away in that instant. She took the time to explain. She was and still is, patient with my questions. I probably would not be as patient as she is. I KNOW I wouldn’t have been at first. I’d have imagined and relived the horror and loss and tossed me away so fast my head spun. I would have not taken the time to explain. My comment would have not been a gentle answer, it would have been to remove contact.

This is the world we have created. We have caused our Elder Sisters and Brothers to have to hide in plain sight. We force them to appear to be like us. We tell their children that their parents view and faith are comic, untrue, or evil. We mock and deride. We make a profit on a fiction of them. We give them anything but legitimacy…and we owe them better than that…

*sigh*

My “best friend that is not my wife” is a Lady and a Witch. Her path is not mine but, it walks beside mine. Her Path is from a way that far precedes mine and a culture that is far more vibrant than I ever imagined. She’s not outwardly remarkable but, she’s inwardly, one of the toughest and most resilient people I’ve ever met. If you want to burn THAT Witch, please bring enough wood to burn a Heretic, too…

Part of me wishes I had never made the comment. I wish I had never reminded her of the history but, if I had not, there would not be a Witch in my life.