A Meditation on Harm While Traveling on the Civil Rights Trail. (Remix)

(Mural: “Roadkill” by Roa, Chicago,Ill)

There’s a dead opossum in the walls of this newly built house.

They cannot be located but by the smell of their passing life;

Trapped, sleeping, while the insulation, wallboard, tape, and paint

Were urgently applied to get the job done.

It will take a smashing and drilling and ripping of the walls

To get to the remnants of the carcass of harm

That is causing a persistent suffering stench 

Permeating this newly built house.

Conscious, intentional, and perceptible harm  may cause immediate and maybe even indelible results, 

but that harm is there, available

To be raged at, to be swung at, to run from, to apply bandages to, to tell someone about, to seek support for, to choose a reaction to,

Before the studs go in

And the insulation is sprayed.

And the wallboard tacked and taped

And the coats of paint applied.

It’s the harm that arises from the dying opossum in the walls of the house

that lies in wait, hidden from consciousness, 

that, at its inception, cannot be raged at, swung at, run from, bandaged, spoken about, soothed, or reacted to;

It is the harm from 

preverbal imprints, childhood violence, or subtle emotional manipulations, silent neglect, subtle sarcasm, lifelong lies, or constant diminishment;

Or even more, 

The insidious carcasses buried 

In the foundations of lives, families, societies, genders, races, cultures and karmas, genderism, racism, classism, culture-ism, faith-ism, lookism, ageism, privilege, dominance, slavery, supremacy, competition, ignorance, egoism;

It is these hidden or forgotten harms that are initially unseen in the flurry to rebuild and repair and are seemingly impossible to root out, because they are imbedded in the foundations of the skyscrapers of lives, and the ways of living that sustain a desire for permanence, and drive the fear of its loss.

– Eternal life is the promise of religion,

– “Long lasting” is the gold standard for things, relationships, occupations, wealth, deodorant,

– Endurance is the epitome of the idea of physical well being and emotional strength.

– Perpetual legacy and continual recognition are the goals we are taught to strive for.

Threats to self importance, to spiritual superiority, to material dominance.

threaten this body’s existence and to all of the beliefs in a permanent existence;

stirring up fear, aggression, jealousy, hatred, clinging and attachment;

the ingredients for a perfect, concrete mix to conceal the rotting carcasses of harm.

What would happen if the wisdom of 


replaced the desire for


Would the wallboard crumble?

Would the insulation vaporize?

Would the studs rot away,

Would the foundation dissolve?

Would the source of the insufferable stench be revealed?

Would we let go of the need to rebuild?

Would we ever harm again?

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