Torn Heart and the Bad Child

I’m in New Delhi, visiting with my Indian friends, Ansh and Pooja, to their friends. We’re sitting in their small front room. I’m sitting in front of the heating unit, warding off unexpected frostbite. It is winter here in houses that lack heating. I’m wearing a heavy sweater, buttoned.  Dad is sitting cross-legged on the floor fanning a layer of coal briquettes on a metal grill, wanting to cook some chicken. He is having a hard time getting it started. After a bunch of unsuccessful minutes, he and my friend Ansh exited to the front yard where they could stimulate the flames without endangering our feet. Cooking the food here, is a social engagement, all of us cheering the chef with a certain amount of teasing.

There was something wonderful about it, so unlike what I have so often experienced in which there is food delivered and a hired person to cook and serve it. The delivered food is bland but looks good. It lacks a collective spirit. The New Delhi group later spoke about arranged marriages and why there are so few of them. I said the problem is the bride price. Ansh said that they had to pay the girl’s family of the bride to get her to marry him. We all laughed at this, including the cook. No hurt feelings here.

On the couch next to me is a rumpled tan blanket. When I see it move, I think my eyes are fooling me. Then I learn that their son, a 6-year old who had not been feeling well lay beneath. I thought he was in his bedroom at the far end of the house but no, he wanted to be part of the crowd. He lay there like a butterfly in its cocoon.

Kids usually like to be in the middle of things. A sad and anxious kid who fears to be abandoned stays close to the crowd in order to keep an eye on Mom and Dad. A kid who feels close to his parents, liking to share their collective vibe. I remember seeing this boy come up to his mother and kiss her cheek. She then gently took his arm and kissed his hand. No words were spoken. Love does not need words to be received.

He further established his good kid position with me after all the English speakers had said hello and made one or two comments, then returning to their comfortable and colloquial Hindi. He came over and sat next to me. With a smiling face, he asked, “beautiful lady, can we speak English?” “Absolutely,” I said. I loved my 6-year old (A+ student) swain who saved me from my designated social isolation. It’s funny how people comfortable in their language.

The kid knew that he was generally welcomed. His mother put out the welcome mat to him, no and or buts about it. He did not need to surrender to his parent’s desires and opinions, an attitude which contains inherent ambivalence. Later, he joined us at the table for what was a second meal, this time one of mutton. I couldn’t believe how much and how often we were eating. I took smaller portions even though as a guest, I was requested to take more. Mom brought over a plate of mutton to her son. He said no to it and she said some more words to convince him but the kid asserted “no.” She walked away with the dish. No bad feelings. Life went on.

What makes it hard for the parent to accommodate a child’s not acceding to their wishes often happens with parents whose own parents were punishing and rejecting. The now grown child has a conflicted identity, that of a helpless failing child and of an attacking parent. Parental hatred travels through the generations.

In each generation, the child who does not feel welcomed grows up to become an ambivalent parent. Take my good friend in the Southern United States who was mostly used, rejected, punished, put-down and ignored by Mom and Dad who hated each other as well. They demanded perfection in all she did without appreciation it. Only the child’s failures were noticed. Her parents had been similarly rejected by their parents.

My friend was an angry and guilt-ridden parent, swinging from one extreme to the other. She spent a lot of time smoking pot and retreating into the fun of partying. Her child looked on her emotionally absent parent and felt rejected. She learned to get attention by being faulty, careless, greedy. She lied and demanded money. She did not do her homework. She did not keep her word. Her room was a mess. When she came to a party her mother was giving, she drew the plug from the wall which silenced the music. Her mother flew at her in a fury. Being scolded, hit, rejected was the parent’s language which the child learned to speak.  She was a bad child. Had no choice but that.

To further harden the bad child stance, her attacking Mom became guilty. She remembered her own early rejection and gave unreasonable gifts and privileges. Mom’s post rejecting catering gave her child a sense of power. She became a lawless and destructive, acting bad to justify her mother’s abuse. The child’s behavior makes the parent seem ok. The child enacts her parent-assigned position as a lawless loser. The parent’s hate is justified by the bad child’s deliberate failures.

Love and hate are emotional rivers. Were you raised in a river of hate or love? Either river will determine how you treat your children, then how they will treat their spouse and child. Can you jump from a river of hate into one of love? Yes. But first, you must know the river you are in and come to know that you don’t need it. Most difficult of all,  you must leave the river of hate which connects you to your hating parent. This separation is hurtful and frightening to the inner child. Know your experience as a loss which leads to gain. The bad child is contained by hate. The good child is free to love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Signs that Your Parents Were Narcissistic and Unloving

If this discussion interests you, please read my book Unloved Again.

Your narcissist does not feel empathy. If anything helps you decide whether your parent is a narcissist, this is guidepost number one. Although many of our cultural values are narcissistic: “look at me… at my car… my possessions… where I vacation, etc., these are superficial attention getters. The heart of the show-off may still beat in tune with yours.

The narcissist suffers from a far more serious mental absence. Their attention is encased in a psychological hall of mirrors, wrapped up  in “it’s all about me.” As a result, the narcissistic parent cannot know you, their child (or friend or lover).  One has to feel the “other” person to know them. The narcissist may speak words of caring if they have caught onto saying these as a required social image but their heart is not in it.

You, their child feel that emptiness until you start pulling the wool over your own eyes. The child of a narcissist usually falls in line with their parent illusory need to be seen as loving. The child does this in hope of one day receiving the parent’s real love. The child imagines the parent is capable of feeling love but is withholding it because, you, their child are faulty. The child cannot stand the grief of knowing they have a  forever love-deficient parent. Instead, they take the blame. The notion of courting a love-withholding person guides their love-life ever after.

The narcissistic parent may utter words of sympathy when their child has suffered some kind of injury, for which they congratulate themselves on acting caring but words said do not mean that they feel your pain. Every word uttered reflects on their need for glory. In like manner, they attack their child for failing to be perfect at something because it casts a negative light on them or, even after they scold the child, are secretly exulted since their child’s failure puts them on a higher plane. I am above you because I lack that fault. Whether praising or attacking, all felt and done is self-referential. You do not exist for them in your own right.

Narcissistic parents are fakes who make their child into a fake.  They put a false image onto themselves with which the child must fit. The child initially knows that it is only a “pretense” like pretending to be a ghost at Halloween, but over time, the child loses awareness of it as an act, forgets how to find/be/know their own true self. A feeling of emptiness follows. A child needs its parent’s accurate (and loving reflection) to develop a sense of self.

Your narcissistic parent revels in vanity as do all children in their early years. All children need to be seen as great at least during the terrible two’s until reality cuts it down to an acceptable self-image.  The narcissist never leaves this stage of self-adulation. It is his shelter and defense against knowing himself to be a hollow man or woman.

The narcissist’s feelings are easily wounded. You, their child are expected to applaud, to build them up and support them. Once grown, the only way out of this un-loved affair is to leave it. You will be met with a barrage of objections, called selfish and self-centered after all “I have done for you.’ You need to take a gigantic step of not accepting the parent’s accusation that you are abandoning them since in the narcissistic parent’s unconscious mind, they remain your child.

The “sponge self” you developed under their barrage of projection and need has to be recognized and discarded. A sponge cannot say here I am and here I am not, regardless of what you say about me. The sponge self automatically agrees with the narcissist’s idealization or denigration. The narcissistic parent will never stop asking you for more. Do not fight with them to see you as you are since they can’t do it. Fighting is a form of attachment. It is a demand the parent set you free rather than you freeing yourself. Gracefully as possible move into the wonderful confusion of owning your own life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Become Aware of Your Repetition Compulsion

I write this to reach people whose love affairs have always turned out bad. That it happens over and over shows that it is the outcome of your repetition compulsion. The repetition compulsion is out of awareness. And probably because of this very strong. You need to understand the origin of the repetition compulsion in order to limit its power and stop enacting it commands.

  1. Acknowledge that you are suffering in your “love affairs.” Your suffering is real. Do not regard your suffering as a sign of love. That pain equals love is a falsehood which maintains the repetition compulsion. It is the thinking of a child who needs to feel loved regardless of the parent’s abuse or disinterest.
  1. Do not accept blame for being mistreated by the one you love. Learning how to do something your lover would like should not be induced by their hating you and your reactive shame. Punishing you for not measuring up shows they hate themselves for the same thing and are passing it onto you.
  1. Open your Pandora’s box of secret knowledge. Find the memory and feelings of early childhood, so many kinds of abuse received and so little of love and pleasure. Notice that the guilt you find there that is with you still.
  1. Know that your inner child repeats hurtful relationships in order to “get it right this time.” The child needs to believe that love is waiting. There is no end to their experience of trying and failing.
  1. Step into the social unknown. Meet people who do not act like terrified slaves or tyrannical parents. Do not act that way yourself. See who is attracted to the open, softer you.
  1. Know if the ones you meet are narcissists from their self-centered behavior. Feel OK about moving away from them. Politely tell them that the “chemistry is not right.” This is your chance to say “no” to the control of your “inner child,” the negative part of yourself. You cannot say “yes” to Mr./Ms. Right until you can say “no” to Mr./Ms. Wrong.
  1. Do not chase after anyone who seems disinterested. Tell yourself no holding on when there’s nothing to hold onto. Fight the urge whenever it appears. No more time for imaginary lovers.
  1. Do not pretend to feel love. Offering fake love is a bribe for real love that cannot come. The receiver senses that what you claim is untrue and their love, in response to yours, or naturally to them, may be fake as well. They also may be love pretenders. Real love makes you feel warm and happy. You no longer are alone. The person who seeks your love wears their heart on their sleeve. No need to imagine it.

 

Get my book Unloved Again today! Hardcover ($25 including shipping) and Paperback  ($16 including shipping) versions available. Payment collected via Squareup.com/store/elangolomb.

How To Stop Loving Those Who Can Not Love

You Have to Molt

In arthropods, such as arachnids and crustaceans, molting is the shedding of the exoskeleton (which is often called a shell), to let the organism grow. The butterfly, for example, emerges from its  chrysalis, its wings kept close to its body until it recovers from the effort of its a transformation.  It then spreads its wings and begins to fly not very well at first. Flying is a learning process not unlike the metamorphosis of a human being into a new way of feeling and relating. I use a caterpillar changing into a butterfly as an example because of its  ultimate beauty. Also the caterpillar molts from the head down the same way we need to change our minds.

Those raised in an  emotional/psychological hell, develop a psychological shell which is felt to be protective. It incorporates all that the child learns to get along with or to seek forgiveness from  the powerful figures in his life. It incorporates a lot of guilt and whitewashing if not worship of the abuser. Molting exemplifies the necessity  of total change. Changing a little of this or that in your appearance or demeanor to get an unloving person to love you is no change at all. To change yourself from being attracted to those who can’t love or for you to be unloving, your childhood thinking has to be surrendered by it’s “not me.”

Children  whose parents are welcoming and loving develop a psychological persona, not a shell. Their way of relating is roomy and ready to be traded for some new kind of love interaction even on an experimental basis. They have no fear of falling into an emotional abyss. They know from relating to parents who do not claim perfection, that a wrong choice can be easily given up. No problem. There is a sense of freedom.

It is fear of giving up the childhood shell of imagined protection which keeps the adult who had a damaging childhood, seeking love from the same type of person as the parent. That adult feels frozen like a deer caught in the headlights because it exists in the terrified child brain which sees no other possibility. The child’s brain says if you try to change the one who attacks you, it can only get worse. The adult may scream and weep about his miserable love life but his childhood mind says stay here.

People suffering from the repetition compulsion endlessly fall in love with those who cannot love them. They replay a childhood wish that finally the parent will love them. The child also clings to repetition as a superstitious act which believes that doing the same thing wards off greater danger.

I got to the place where I molted out of my containing child’s view of love, by suffering.  I failed and failed again to get love from the same kind of unloving person. I suffered  to the point where I knew that I did not know who or how to  love.  I threw in the towel of repetition, was desperately lonely and unhappy. Being in that empty space was a huge step forward. I had  no shell. The childhood shell which rationalized life with attacking and rejecting parents kept me as an adult from feeling love when it was offered. A shell misshapes your view of reality. It turns present into the past you have always known.

So it was when I was in an exceedingly lonely state  I met the man who was to be my husband. Lacking my  screen to distort receptivity, I immediately felt him a kind, intelligent and caring man who did not lie. Coming from a rejecting childhood, he did not think I meant it when I gave him my phone number. Heartbroken, I waited for his call. We ran into each other on Main street a year later when he was driven to put aside his shy demeanor and try to pick me up. I slowly recognized him, had a brief careful talk, said goodbye and went into the supermarket. He called me up that night. Had my phone number written on his wall by the phone. We met for a date at a macrobiotic restaurant. Liked the food. Happily and instantly we became a couple He put no barrier between us. I felt so much love from and for him,  was constantly close to tears. I had molted out of the miserable “known” into wonderful emptiness. This made room for him to get close to me, which he did. And I did to him.

Get my book Unloved Again today! Email me directly at elangolomb@gmail.com in order to get your signed copy. Hardcover ($25 including shipping) and Paperback ($16 Squareup.com/store/elangolomb.

How Did I Come to Write Unloved Again

I Wanted to Study how I learned to love those who could not love. It was writing Unloved Again that taught me the origin is childhood pain denied.

You who love those who cannot love you or reject those who can, do not know why you do it. It is like you are in a state of amnesia. You do not know how you got here. Things simply happen to you. If you are unable to see that it is you who make the choices, in effect the same mistakes, ask the opinion of people who are objective. Repetition is a tell-tale sign of choice.

It is like you are perched on the roof of a dark and shuttered house. You do not know how you got there nor how to enter. You periodically receive messages from that house along with feelings. These messages tell you who to love and hate including to hate yourself. You think these messages come from the “real you.”

Why do you assume that this inner voice represents your adult self?  It is like believing advice from someone who profits if you make the “right  choice.” Accepting the terrified thinking of your inner child and the terrifying directives of your inner parent denies that you can grow. You are to remain fixed in childhood. You may fool yourself into accepting  these opinions by calling them your “intuition.” There are so many ways we fool ourselves.

The internal structure of the darkened house is very fragile. Its parts connect one to the other like cripples leaning against one another for greater balance. If one of them steps out of the pack, all the rest fall down.  The source of this mad circumstance of lasting disorder is that it represents half fighting and half surrender. It is the power of surrender which brings the parts down together – I fall into you. It is the power of resistance which binds the two together – You can’t get up without me. This building is covered by a dark roof which protects its contents from the wind and rain of recognition. You are to hear what it tells you and feel what it sends you but not understand the source.

How the child survived with unloving, brutal and rejecting parents is what the house is about. Many of these aspects have to do with denying the reality of what happened. The child turns his abuse into something better or takes the blame for it. If it all was his fault, punishment was called for. Does he need more? The parent was a bully whose nails of hatred were hammered into the child’s wood of self-identity. How does the adult handle this? How does it color his view of love?

The adult perched on the roof hears the child’s distant cry and takes it as his own. He has not separated from his internal child. Some neurotically-driven people dedicate their lives  to saving the inner child. But you cannot rewrite the past. You can only understand it in order to leave the past behind. Those dedicated to saving their remembered inner child, sacrifice their present life. There are many forms of arrested development and this is one.

To accept the feelings and directives from that darkened house is to declare yourself invalid. You need to break into that mental building and examine its every piece. Study the child’s willingness to surrender. See the rationalizations and lies that make this possible. Study your parent’s emotional weakness which underlies their terrifying behavior. Remember them as hungry ghosts, throat too small to swallow and fill their endless need  (Dante’s Inferno) Get a calendar in your mind so that you can distinguish past from present.

You will be energized to follow this difficult path by pain. See that your pain was inflicted by a cruel parent who needed to injure their child. Reject accepting pain as the path to love. Do not identify punishment as love. Pain is pain and  nothing else. Pain is a terrible connection. Sever yourself from that kind of union. Pain is there to alert you to do something about its source not to surrender, not to quiet you down. Growing numb does not free you. Feeling my pain and understanding where it comes from and especially not accepting a guilty position helped me stop choosing people who could not love me You can do it too.

Unloved Again shows people struggling to understand their history. The internal child will always cry in terror. Is that terror relevant to your “now?” The internal parent will always threaten the child. Should you, the adult be afraid? An adult mind declares these experiences to be from the past. It is time for achieving great emptiness in order for something new to enter.  Loving someone who can love you now is living in the present.

Get my book Unloved Again today! Email me directly at elangolomg@gmail.com in order to get your signed copy. Hardcover ($25 including shipping) and Paperback ($16 Squareup.com/store/elangolomb.)

Life Is Calling You

Survivors of concentration camps were the ones that were motivated to get through great hardship in order to tell their story the starvation and freezing and cholera and typhus, typhoid, and diphtheria; the murder of parents and siblings and children. The weak ones were chosen to go first, the strong ones consigned to back-breaking work half clothed in freezing weather until they succumbed. Some were shot in groups after digging their graves, many perished breathing poisonous gas after supposedly cleansing showers. The survivors see themselves as griots, who sustain their lineage by telling its history. Not knowing your history keeps you from knowing what makes you who you are.

What kind of history created this Anthropocene era, leaders pulling the masses into a murderous spree in which we use up everything possible , consuming all of it now as if there is no tomorrow in which we may need some more of it, no consideration of that object’s right to exist; we kill as an act of power over those we want to subdue like knocking off most of the buffaloes even from train windows to subdue the natives. Currently, we see economic value which turns an earth-object,mineral, animal or plant into money. We exterminate whole species of sea life, as a necessary byproduct of using gigantic nets to harvest certain fish, dumping the rest all dead, overboard, the turtles and sharks and porpoises and….We transform sensate beings and living plants into inanimate objects. We turn everything into nothing.

Since Congress said that money is a form of speech and that corporations are people, everything is for sale. Protective fences can be removed by those who claim ownership often at the point of a gun. The corporation or corporate man buys the local “commons” so that the local dwellers  can no longer graze their sheep, later sheer them for wool which is woven and made into clothing. The man is deprived of the land he needs to raise what he eats. If he buys instead of inheriting his farm, bank interest makes it impossible for him to keep it. He cannot control his destiny. Has no place to call home.

We who argue for the preservation of life have insufficient funds to “persuade” elected officials to support it. Greed and stupidity rule them (rule us as well if we believe what we are told about the wonderful advancement that will soon be ours if we give up our land connection. Greed and stupidity  are driving us all to extinction.

How important are trees in the Brazilian Amazon rain forest, trees that hold onto shallow top soil with their roots and create oxygen from their leaves? Not as important to the “modern man” who wants to raise cattle to sell to McDonald’s. The man is rarely native. He does not love the earth and his connection to it.  His only connection to it is his need for wealth. He and his gang kill natives who object to losing their home and garden; either that or allows them to work as near-slaves. He cuts down every tree in order to plant grass. It is not long before the rainy season washes away the topsoil with its grass. Nothing grows there now. Cows without grass become stringy and unsellable. The cattlemen will have to move on, to destroy a new section of the forest and leave behind a growing desert.

Why are there no magnet-powered trains which can take us to every little town? How did the auto industry take over so that now we only can travel by car on endlessly expanding roads? Corporations that build cars, dig roads, extract, refine and sell gas, have purchased Congressional votes. Lawmakers go deaf whenever a natural approach is mentioned. Those who want non-polluting trains have insufficient funds to get the ear of Congress. Humans are amazingly repetitive. Once some process has been installed, it becomes the only way to do it. Money is the glue for this. A terrible fear of poverty annihilates the possibility of change.

Environmental solutions are called “romantic” by those in power by which they mean unrealistic and unimportant. The Anthropocene “extractors” have the fantasy of a future solution to the damage they are causing. They have no sense of time, no idea that time is running out. Anthropocene means man-created disaster.  If we admit to harming the earth and all its dwellers, to what extent have we come to think our destruction is inevitable? Such an idea is a severe narrowing of vision. The “use-it-up” society is mentally myopic.

Corporations exist in the present. They have cash registers in the place of hearts. Congressmen are on a short leash. When environmentally sensitive people argue against turning trees into paper/plywood; or cutting them down to plant coconut trees for coconut oil, they turn away. Who can convince them of our need for the multiplicity of living things instead of making a profit? The Anthropocene mentality regards the market as its god. All living things which suffer from corporate “taking” and are disregarded.

We feel our loss of a clear sky and pure water, of bird song. We react to starving iceless polar bears and emaciated baby seals and …. How are we to react to these losses? Hopelessness guarantees permitting more destruction especially by denying its existence or its size. Unable to handle hopelessness we give up our morality. Shades fall down between our sense of self and our painful feelings. We become robotic. Or we accept the market mentality, a join them if you can’t lick them approach. It is OK to devour nature.

Indifference is the attitude of those who have given up. They are dead before their body falls. A spirit disconnected from life is into dying. I say no to that. What is our tax money going for? What do we want our government to provide? We want free schools and free medicine, woods to walk in, bird song in the spring, clean air to breath and clean water to drink. We want a living world.

We are told that the great extinction we are causing is a natural thing and that some animals will adapt to their loss of habit. Lies. Feel your pain. Your anger. What are you going to do about preserving life?

Get my book Unloved Again today! Email me directly at elangolomb@gmail.com in order to get your signed copy. Hardcover ($25 including shipping) and Paperback ($16 Squareup.com/store/elangolomb) .

Afraid to Change

Now we are peering at an edge over which we must fall . We need to move  totally away from it, not  just to give the appearance of making constructive change without doing something that can be undone in a flash.  We need to not be taken in by advertising. Pseudo change  come from corporations whose paid-off politicians mouth imaginary benefits including jobs, jobs, jobs! this repeated by corporation-owned newspapers and teachers who are ill-informed by all of  the above as well as fitting in so as to not lose their jobs. Fear is not a good attitude to have when learning about what is.

Biased news sources threaten us with death or some kind of horrible existence if we move away from the corporate plan. Fear is used to close the minds of those who are needed to submit. Where is that part of us which wants to be self-sufficient? The child happily dwells in a world devoid of oil and fracked gas and overly hot seasons, a world free of flood and drought, of  drug-inoculated animals whose drug-resistant bacteria enter our bodies once the carcass is eaten to cause disease in us. These surviving bacteria cannot be eliminated by antibiotics. The world of treating infections with antibiotics will soon be over. We are creating our world as a place where antibiotics will not work. The child is not enlivened by the so-called civilized institutions which destroy life.

A self-sufficient life is frowned upon by those who would make us dependent on products they can sell. The banks are against farmer’s independence  They underprice vegetables to force farmer’s into unpayable loans until they cannot pay the mortgage and give up the farm. They chemically spray and poison underpaid factory farmers. They cause factory farmers to work at a pay-level which turns them into slaves. They poison all the vegetables and fruit and legumes and milk and meat with insecticide and growth hormone the general public will eat.  We live in a poisoned world. Is this our choice?

The American Indians were removed by the European invaders because they were spiritual beings who functioned as a group. They did not think anyone owned the land in which they dwelled. This accounts for the newly arrived starving and impoverished white men’s misunderstanding when NY Indians accepted  their offering of beads as a gift and not as the sales price for New York. it didn’t take long for the white men to discover that violence worked better than petty gifts or even phony treaties.

We are made to be dependent on outside forces but don’t want to see it that way, a false supposition which keeps us passive. We claim ownership of that on which we lean for support. The more unnecessary imposed support we seek, the more we become addicted to crutches that take away our lives. What will we do if there is another power failure? No refrigerator to maintain our food which  spoils in days and no food to be delivered. The farmer’s trucks lack power from gas pumps that do not suck oil.  No water in your tap to wash your hands or to flush your toilet. What will we do when the absence of power ends the flow of cooling water over the water pools filled with “discarded” nuclear rods at New York’s Indian Point or any other nuclear reactor?’ “Hello Fukushima.

After the explosion of the Trinity atom bomb, Robert Oppenheimer said,  “Now I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” We dwell in the sin of Adam who ate the forbidden apple so that God threw them out of the garden. What is that apple? Is it the apple of ownership? There is hope if we renounce a take-it-all and spoil-it-all society and live in a loving relationship with Mother Earth.

You may say we can’t go back. Got to have cars and TV and I-phones and pollution and spoilage until death. But the idea of permanence is false. There is no back and no forward. Everything is moving and changing. It is a flaw to worship the components of our current life as the only place to be. Survival has to do with moving into what supports life.

There is power in wind and sun and geothermal and tides and… There are extremely small and extremely large things to be discovered. The more we know, the more we see how little we know. There is seeing and feeling the beauty of the wild. Do not believe those who would make you afraid of change. Their motivation is short-sighted and usually selfish. We can share work on a farm or commune, can share our gifts and talents and not fall into the exploitative need for money. We can choose a place with a good water table far from leaking and exploding nuclear reactors. We share our work and talent, have more time for fun. We can bring out our instruments, drums, and whistles to play a tune. We dance and sing, write music and tell stories. We can lead a life that does not threaten. We can love.