Our Words: “With Great Prowess Comes Great Responsibility”

6275825-a-pile-of-reference-books-isolated-against-a-white-backgroundI have a friend who said to me, “Words are powerful things.”  It was quite some time ago, but I believe I was saying something hurtful at the time.  And, as a writer (one of my few true skills), I had the ability to make my words really sting.

I’ve heard that there are studies in which the power of words was tested by saying “I love you” and “I hate you” to dishes of freezing water to see if there was any effect.  Reportedly, the ‘loved’ samples made beautiful crystalline formations, and the ‘hated’ samples made very fractured-looking structures.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I DO know what words can do to a person.

It’s rather hypocritical of me to be hurtful with my words, since I can still remember the things that were said to me as a child by my peers.  And let’s not talk about adolescence.  It’s because of that lingering pain that I have felt the need to amp up my words into a full-blown arsenal when I feel slighted.  It’s the desire to one-up the other and dish out more than you’ve received.

Words are indeed powerful things, and just as I’ve seen the hurt I can cause and have been caused, I’ve seen what KIND words can do and what my own have done for others.  I’ve had someone very important to me tell me how I always seem to say the right thing, the best, most perfect thing to help them stay grounded in that moment and maintain perspective.  You know what?  I like the feeling it gives me to have THAT effect on someone better than the scarring one.

I’ve mentioned a few times in this blog that I’m in a couple writers’ groups.  We ALL have this power, and ALL have this responsibility.  Even if you’re not a writer, the pain that words can cause can still last.  I’m sure the people that hurt me from childhood and on weren’t exactly Shakespearean in their verbal skill.  So may we all bear in mind the power of words, and pause before we do some damage to someone, because oftentimes that damage lasts far longer than it took to even speak.

Words: “With Great Prowess Comes Great Responsibility”   

  

Someone once said to me, “Words are powerful things”.

They can be used to help, or to hurt, an array that each one brings.

I’ve used my words in scathing ways, cutting deeply as I could;

I’ve also used them to let one know their pain is understood.

     I hope that when my time is up, what’s left when mine are heard

     Is something benevolent and sincere or else be deemed absurd.

     May others feel the light of love that’s hopefully interred

     Every time, from here on out, within my every word.

I have a gift to use my words in all the ways I do;

I’ve often been praised for all the shapes that I can mold them to.

But I must revere that power that I know they each contain,

Remember all the times they’re used, intent to cause one pain.

     May each sentence that I share leave no darkness that’s inferred,

     And if I fail in that regard, leave the recipient undeterred.

     Unless productive, taking flight like a paradisiacal bird,

     May no harm and only help be born by every word.

© Jordan Alan Fox 

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Love and The Loss of the Lost

Some of you that have been around my blog for awhile will recall my involvement on Facebook with sharing profiles of pets in shelters to spare them from euthanasia.  This happens by either having any of my page subscribers be a potential foster/adopter or be able link any given animal with a rescue that may be willing to pick up that animal.  The people with whom I network in this process are all over the world, and we have many different group pages on which we share information.

It is about a woman in this network around which today’s post is centered.  She and I hadn’t officially become “friends” on there, but I had crossed her path many times over the last 3 years, and I’m sure we must have conversed on several occasions.  I was very familiar with her name and the icon she had been using for that entire time.  Many people change their profile pic all the time, but hers was constant, and instantly recognizable.

A few weeks ago, we got the news that she had taken her life.  I went numb when I read that.  I feel guilty that I never did “befriend” her on there.  She even lived within 2 hours from me.  But the fact that I didn’t “know” her has not diminished the sense of loss and amount of sadness I feel.  I’ve heard bits and pieces about what led her to this decision, but in the end these don’t matter.  This was a caring, giving, loving person who sacrificed so much to help others.  She rescued several animals herself, and was an incredibly respected woman.

But we never know what someone’s limit will be.  We never know what burdens another may have that might finally crush a person.  Depression is so often not a sign of weakness, but a sign that someone has had to be too strong, through too much, for too long.  Some will (and have) been outspoken about what they feel is a completely selfish and irresponsible act on the part of individuals that have come to making the choice she did.  I choose to see (and encourage you to as well) that a person must be in an incredible amount of pain to come to that decision.

I understand quite a bit about depression and what it can do to a person.  I have suffered from it myself through many stretches of my life.  I have had so many people close to me suffer from it as well.  In fact, some of those that are closest to me at present are so because we’ve bonded together over our experiences, sharing them, and supporting each other through them.

I will even volunteer here that I tried to end my own life once myself, in 1995.  I’m not going to discuss the details of that here, but I know how low a person can get.  Everyone has a breaking point.

I  had a CD playing in my car which has 2 songs which remind me of this woman’s loss, one of those songs possibly describing the thoughts that may have gone through her head in the days preceding her death.  The other one speaks to me of the story of those that loved her having to let her go.  It was just coincidence that this disc was playing in my car at the time of her death, and I suppose I hadn’t really thought of the lyrics in question in this way before.  But I was driving, the songs played, and as I listened to the words, the correlation hit me.  I continued to drive, crying all the way to my destination.  I’ve included links to videos of these songs which include the lyrics.

What I want to close this post with is just to say that please don’t judge those dealing with depression.  Please be observant of your loved ones, and try to be aware of the warning signs.  Even if you see a coworker to whom you’re not especially close that seems in distress, or a stranger that seems upset, does it cost you that much to say, “Excuse me. Are you okay?”

I worked with a guy once that said to me, “All we ever have is each other.”  I asked him if he was talking specifically about me and him, dealing with a boss that was not fun to work for, to say the least.  Or was he talking about something broader, more universal, between people in this world.  He said, “Both”.  And he’s right.  In this chaotic universe, dealing with tragedies anywhere from personal to global, all we ever have is each other.

And those people that you love?  Please let them know it.  You never know when you will have spoken for the last time.

images

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LeRB14kt3II

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Yipca8hYce0

(This photo was found on the site http://www.dawnoftheunicorn.co.uk)

Wow. Just Wow. Tales of Censorship and Love

I edited my last post.  How so?  I changed the link I gave to my anti-Vick page.  Why?  I changed the NAME of the page.  How come?  Because the Troll Patrol was let out of their cells early.  The page was rocking along, hitting 100 subscribers, and crawling towards 150.  Then the assaults started coming.

Three people told me they reported the page to FaceCrook.  One, and then another, told me they called the police to inform them of my page (again, titled at the time as Mike Vick should be shot, electrocuted, hung, and beaten) and that they thought it was a credible threat upon Vick’s actual person.  Of course, those doing the reporting have pictures of themselves in Eagles jerseys and pictures of Vick as the banner photo.  Perhaps I bit off too much, perhaps I was trying to be too cute in making my point that these reports usually fail (from reporting the obscene things I listed in my last post).  Perhaps it was naive of me to not see more attacks on the page than just reporting to FaceCrook.  I certainly didn’t see calls going to the police that I was an actual threat to Vick’s life.

Then the subscribers started engaging in verbal warfare with the trolls.  I kept asking them to stop retorting, but they wouldn’t listen.  I didn’t want to block anyone; just as I believed I was exercising freedom of speech, I wanted to be fair and let the jerks say their piece in opposition to my page.  But putting up warnings that the arguing wasn’t going to help our cause wasn’t stopping anything.  What could have been 10-comment posts became 96-comment posts.  I eventually decided I had to block the assailants.  I had to figure out exactly how to do that, since I’d never encountered trolls on my other pages, but then again, those other pages were never provocative.  When blocking the comments and those posting them, a feature came up to report abusive comments to FaceCrook.  It seems petty to have done so, but I guess fair is fair.  They reported me for commenting that I’d like to see Vick come to physical harm (though I didn’t actually say I’D be trying to do it), and I reported them for calling my subscribers fat, ugly, unfit mothers and white-trash (insert nickname for female anatomical part that begins with “C”).

I asked the subscribers what they thought of a name change, and I was worried that it was like conceding defeat.  But they were very supportive, and even suggested names.  After digesting what they offered, and a day to think it over, the page is now Vick-timized: Giving Voice to the Voiceless Ones.  I think it’s good timing to change it now, because I have the subscriber base to share and get the page out there now, where the title was what drew the early ones.  It’s got the flavor of the original, but not the “Oh, you’re threatening my crybaby dogkiller quarterback vibe”.  Now the page’s standards can do it rather than the fireworks display.

I did also put up legal-ese statements including: “This page, while educational in nature by trying to raise awareness of dogfighting and animals abuse, obviously provides some satyrical release for those that are disgusted by Vick’s actions. I am making it clear that this page is not in any way suggesting that anyone seek Vick out or attempt to harm him in any way. You may wish whatever you like upon him, but I’m not suggesting anyone actually pursues vigilante actions.”

One woman, who was actually rather sweet, eventually was able to talk to us and not have to be blocked.  She said that her sister, an activist, was taking posts from my page and bombarding her with them.  So that’s probably how they all found me.  My own subscribers might have been hate-bombing Vick fans with my content, which was traceable back to my page.  I had to put up another statement that this is not acceptable, and I apologized to the woman for her being accosted that way.

It has been crazy.  What a night–I had gotten up at 4 a.m. that morning for work, and other than a one-hour nap, I was still up at 5:30 this morning.  I got perhaps another hour of sleep then.  It’s all so surreal.

I wonder what will come of the calls to the police (if, indeed, they were made).  Perhaps the fact that the title is changed and the fact that all the content on the page is about dogfighting awareness, debunking the stereotypes about pit bulls, some non-violent jabs at Vick, and lists of his endorsers to boycott (which seems all legal to me) will save me.  I guess, if the police even bother to look into it, they’ll just look at the page and see that.  With the name change, they might not even be able to find it at all. I changed the link to it as well.

So there we are.  Tales of censorship and love (for the cause).

And thus the Beat(ing) Goes On….

Okay, so last time I mentioned my friend Marie’s suggestion that I throw my animal advocacy poems in here.  So why not?  As I come up with them, I shall do so.

On a different topic (slightly), there have always been pages and photos that I and other advocates (of varying causes) have reported to FaceCrook to be removed.  Such includes a page called Adalia Must Die, which targets a young girl who appears to have terminal cancer.  Targeting those with illness or disability and harmful or hateful speech are both reportable infractions.  We’ve also reported pics of people holding up bloody wolf pelts (violence or graphic content), pics of people appearing to strangle puppies by holding them off the ground with hands around the throat (violence, harmful behavior), and pics of cats with guns shoved in their mouth or pointed at their heads (ditto).  FaceCrook inevitably sends an email that the pages and photos reported have not been taken down due to “lack of evidence”.  Hmmm.

This takes me to Monday.  I was at work, and it occurred to me that I should create a page with the title “Michael Vick should be shot, electrocuted, hung, and beaten”.  Surely this won’t be a violation of FaceCrook conduct policies if those other items weren’t.  And these are the exact things Michael Vick did to dogs.  He shot them, drowned them, etc., and admitted his joy in doing so.

In an interview after being released from prison, reinstated in the NFL, and signed by the Eagles, Vick was asked if he had any regrets or anything he would change in his life.  His initial response was “No.”  The interviewer asked, incredulously, if he was sure he wouldn’t change ANYTHING.  ANYTHING AT ALL.  Vick’s response was that perhaps he’d like less jail time than he was given.  For the record, he spent 18 months in jail for illegal gambling.  Those that like to tell me “he served his time” are errant in that he served the above sentence and NOT ONE SECOND for animal abuse or cruelty.  None.

So perhaps he needs a little karma to come his way.  And karma is a….female dog.

I did indeed create my page, and I’m already near 50 followers.  It consists of a lot of the same things that I do on my regular advocacy page (petitions and animal rights issues), but the focus is on dog fighting, Breed Specific Legislation (the boycott of specific breeds such as Pit Bulls in certain cities, airlines, and other places), and promoting better awareness.  Many folks out there have made pictures of Vick with different humorous phrases on them, and those absolutely go in there when I find them.  My page link is:  Boycott Vick for the Voiceless Ones.  Now let’s go full circle to my first paragraph about poems.  I wrote 2 for my page, and here they are.  The second one references a certain STD Vick is known to have.  They were meant to be silly (that’s the story I’m sticking to).

Fried Green Infrahumanos 8/27/12

I hate Michael Vick;
He should be fried like frittata,
And then hung,
Beaten like a piñata!

An Ode to Vick, et. al.  8/28/12

Working to save animals is cooler than Slurpees;

I hate all abusers (especially ones with herpes).

I’d like to see karma hit them all like a rocket;

Let’s set off fireworks in each’s front pocket.

That’ll keep each one from attempting any breeding;

They’ll get what’s deserved with their crotches burned and bleeding.

The monsters they are would be displayed by their new features,

And perhaps they’ll no longer assault defenseless creatures.

They went over well with the activists, at least!

I’ll end with a plug for the book The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant.  This book is written from the accounts of the police officer and FBI officer who ran the bust on Vick’s compound, the animal forensics expert on the case, and the people that rescued the still living dogs.  If you don’t understand why we activists won’t let it go, won’t forgive or forget, it is all in the book, the whole ugly truth.

Amazon.com: The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their …

Disclaimer:  I’m not actually saying anyone should go and confront Vick and mete out their own justice.  This is stated in fun and as a way to vent the disgust over Vick’s actions.


It’s Been Awhile….(The Dog Days of Writing?)

It’s been quite a bit of time since I wrote in here, and quite a long stretch since I regularly posted at all.  I’ve mentioned numerous times that the animal advocacy eats up my time, and, well….there you go.

A friend (hi, Marie!) recommended that I regularly write and post poetry based on advocacy issues.  Now, I can’t control when, if, or in what way The Muse will strike, and I want every piece to be as perfect as I can make it, especially for something so meaningful.  It’s hard not to get sing-songy and cheesy when you’re chasing after something so heart-felt, at least in my experiences.  And really hard not to force it out which, of course, makes it SOUND forced.

In previous posts I mentioned how seeing the cases of animals needing to be pulled from shelters to avoid euthanasia and petitions against abuse (which include photos), etc., batter the brain, leaving images burned in the mind’s eye.  It is in response to these images that I wrote a poem back in April in one of my writers’ groups.  We were given a prompt to use, and this prompt was “A picture is worth a thousand words”.

Here is my creation:

 

 

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words 

 

Pictures of those gathered, or alone,

Beaten, abandoned, starved to bone,

With burned and scarred and ravaged hides:

A death blow thrown to my insides.

Their faces shown, which overwhelm,

Await release to another realm,

Stares unfocused, fixedly seared,

And souls that long-since disappeared.

Suffering I can’t understand,

Yet this is brought by human hand.

These inflictions: craven, disgusting,

When they were bred to be so trusting!

Relentless harm, though victims yield;

No longer shall this be concealed!

Words can’t state the horrors shown;

Of cruelties for which we must atone!

These wicked ways must be undone,

These countless pictures reduced to none.

 

Dedicated to those that fight for animal rights and welfare, and, more importantly, to the animals themselves.

© 2012 Jordan Alan Fox

 

I hope you like it, as I am incredibly proud of it.  I’ll admit it’s actually hard to read it myself without getting choked up.

In other news, I was the featured poet at a coffee house near me on August 3rd.  There was 2 hours of total time.  I picked 18 poems out and practiced reciting them to get it to about 30 minutes, including time to give a background on certain pieces.  That would leave plenty of time for the “open forum” after my “set” in which others could choose to share their work.

I believe it went well, but I have to admit that the group of 15-20 people there were friends or friends of the woman that set the whole thing up.  She is the same woman from one of my groups that asked me to do the “He Said/She Said” Valentine’s reading.  I’m scheduled to do another one in October, plus an open mic night 10 days later.  I will read the poem above, for sure.

National Tattoo Day

June fifth is National Tattoo Day, and I was asked to write about the tattoo topic.  I had previously posted about why I got mine, so I think I’ll cover some other, broader aspects.

Tattoos, of course, have a negative connotation due to various cultures using them to mark criminals, the times criminals (or would-be criminals) marked themselves as a status symbol, and the fact that anything that breaks the norm is usually scorned.

However, in today’s world, the tattoo taboo isn’t as great.  Tattoos are actually fairly commonplace, and are seen everywhere.  Many women have them on ankles, shoulder blades, or have the infamous lower back “tramp stamp”.  Men get them on arms, legs, backs, and chests.  But why do they do this?

Well, starting with the criminal element, tattoos can mark loyalties (especially to gangs) and acts committed.  I don’t think I need to cover this realm further; I’m sure you get it.

Members of the military have gotten them to show loyalty as well, or pride in their service.  Tattoos have also been done to honor fallen comrades.  One of the coolest tattoos for military (and sailors in general) is a pair of birds.  I believe the birds are swallows.  My understanding is that when one is sent overseas, they get one swallow to mark that they arrived safely there, and get the matching piece done when they arrive home.  I think it’s an awesome tradition.

Many get representations of loved ones and pets.  And some cultures, such as the Samoans, are tattooed as a right of passage.

Of course, a lot of people in the Western World get inked because they’re trying to be cool or present a certain image, but this should not be allowed to take away from the millions of works of art created every day that have legitimate meaning, if only to the person bearing them.  And this is indeed an art form.  One apprentices before they can get a regular gig as a tattoo artist.  They have to earn their dues.  And even the finest graphic artists would have a hard time doing what they do via a vibrating needle and oft-times moving, wincing, flinching canvasses.

I realize some may think of me in a certain light because I would have to wear long sleeves and pants to cover all of mine, but every tattoo I’ve gotten had thought put into it and means something to my life.  And this is the last reason I’ll give as to why people get work done:  For many, including myself, these works of art are landmarks.  They signify where we’ve been, what we’ve been through, and where we want to be.  The only one that brings me a twinge of regret is my ex-wife’s initial on my shoulder.  It happens, but I could always cover it up if I choose to do so.

I hope this was informative.  And maybe you’ll get one of your own now if you haven’t already–welcome to the establishment!

When a Plus Is Outweighed by a Minus….

In the time it took to write that last post, I hit follower #200 on my advocacy page.  I don’t feel like celebrating, though.  In the same period of time, it was announced that a dog which had been attacked by another dog had died.  There were so many of us following this dog’s story, I can’t even guess the numbers.  Hundreds?  Thousands?  I don’t know.  We were all over the country.

The dog’s injury was one to his face.  I’ve seen the photos.  His snout was literally ripped upwards from his skull.  From the front, You could see his eyes with the skin and fur of his nose sticking straight up between them.  His teeth and skull on the upper part of the muzzle were where they should be for the most part, but without what should have been covering them.  It was awful.  The dog was dropped off by the the supposed owners at a shelter, in that condition.

A vet in California had tried to perform emergency surgery after a young man volunteered to take the dog from the shelter to the vet.  They sewed his face back together, and put gauze all around his head to try to get the skin to adhere to the skull again.  The doctor even took him home that night to keep an eye on him.  There was so much support, so many prayers, offers to help pay, you name it.  So many people wanted this dog to make it.

We knew this was a serious injury, and there was a good chance he wouldn’t make it.  He eventually succumbed to cardiac failure, probably from all of the sedation it took to keep him comfortable and from possibly hurting himself further.

When I got this news, I just broke down.  Like he was MY dog.  Like he was MY family.  Maybe, in a way, he WAS.  We were united as a family caring for one of their own.  We all invested in him emotionally, wanted him to recover, and wanted him to know love and happiness.  His death, to me, made it seem like nothing mattered anymore.  Many of you might not understand this devotion to a dog, especially to one I hadn’t even met.  People waited to hear about the miners (in Chile, was it?) that were trapped in the mine a while back.  They anxiously waited on Elian Gonzales’ fate.  This was an equivalent for those of us that fight for and dearly love animals and nature.

I certainly didn’t think that my 200th fan meant anything after this news.

It took the signing of about twenty petitions to help pull me out of this funk, as well as another WordPress writer’s post.  If you care to check it out, the post is “Running Water’ on silverpoetry.wordpress.com.  http://silverpoetry.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/running-water/#comment-212

I caught a rumor that this dog was actually attacked in a dog fight.  Oren, as the dog became known, was a poodle, so if this is true, he was a bait dog, used to whet the adrenalized appetites of the fighting dogs before the actual match.  I hope the fuckers responsible pay, even if this is not the case, even if it was simply an owner whose dog had an accident; who just drops a dog in that condition off at the shelter, not even taking him to a vet?  I hope there is a such thing as Karma.