With Halloween quickly approaching this week, our air becomes thick with holiday anticipation but for us here in Hawaii, that’s not all the air’s been thick with in recent weeks: thundershowers, downpours, stifling humidity, our signature vog and for some of us, airborne viruses (that has personally had me down-and-out for the past two weeks – and I still can’t breathe!!!) They say “attitude is everything” so opportunistic germs looking for a suitable host didn’t have to travel too far to find me because I was sick before I actually became sick…
On my last morning of health, I was attending an 8:30am court hearing with a DV survivor mom at the family court in Kapolei. When I arrived, mom was not there but neither was anyone else really – compliments of an early morning H1 accident so I went to the front desk to check in and was informed that the hearing was actually going to be held at 1:30pm. Ok, so five hours to kill – now what? Spend two of those five traveling between home and court again or find something constructive to do with my time for those five hours? My stomach reminded me that I hadn’t eaten breakfast so off I went to find a Jack In The Box for a breakfast burrito.
I found one in the Aiea area and was glad so see not too many people in the restaurant because I thought I could spread myself out at a table and nurse a large coffee while making phone calls, appointments and checking email – I could easily burn through five hours there – but not after what I had the misfortune to witness…
After placing my order at the counter I was standing off to the side, checking my emails on my phone when a woman startled me. Soft-spoken, weathered, visibly depressed/distressed, she embarrassingly asked me if I could buy her a #5 because she was hungry. I knew I didn’t have enough money on me to afford that but said I could give her a few dollars towards it. She thanked me but said no and went to sit at a table where she held her head in her hands.
When I got my order and had my hands free again, I went through my purse to see what I could give her and found a few dollars but not enough to purchase the meal. Because there were other people in the restaurant, I was mindful of her dignity so went up to her and said “Please take this” pushing the money into her hand. She tried to give it back to me but I just said, “Please, just take it” and she did whispering a thank you. You’d think that being able to help someone out that way would make you feel good, right? Yes, it does but here’s what happened next:
What I gave her was not enough so she had to make up a difference. In the restaurant was a group of six retirees who appeared to be regulars; another local, middle-aged man sat at a table farther off. The woman began to ask the retirees for any spare change and was turned away with scoffs, silence and firm “No”s; then she approached the man at his table and I happened to glance up from my paperwork long enough to see his response: holding up the cup he was drinking from, he said “You hungry? Then you can have this” and began laughing. The woman waved her hand no and left the restaurant where she began asking people leaving the drive-through for change.
Back in the restaurant, I listened as the group of retirees engaged the man at the table. They asked him about his exchange with the woman and then all began sharing their theories on what she was really going to do with the money she was panhandling for – “I bet she’s going to buy drugs with it – no, alcohol! Probably cigarettes – no, aspirin for her hangover!” All were laughing, watching the woman outside the window and providing a running commentary on her every move. Mind you, I’m not talking about a group of immature teenagers – I’m talking kupuna – both women and men.
After a few minutes more, the woman began walking back toward the restaurant. “Uh oh, here she comes again!” one person laughed. “Better hide your wallet!” another joked. The woman entered the restaurant, went up to the counter, ordered a #5 and sat down at a table by herself to wait for her order – you could’ve heard a pin drop in the restaurant – no one was laughing, joking or talking anymore. By now watching this all unfold had made me thoroughly nauseas and I couldn’t bear to be in the same space as these people any longer so I gathered up my things and left, unable to concentrate on domestic violence or on anything else but the condition of man.
Domestic violence is evil – pure evil – there is absolutely nothing good, holy or redeemable about it and there is no place for it in a relationship between a man and a woman but what happened in that restaurant was the devil’s work in-action, evil as well. How are we supposed to teach love, compassion, the value of humanity and the sanctity of relationships to our children and grandchildren when restaurant scenes like this are what we’ve become? Remember that poem, “Children Learn What They Live” http://www.empowermentresources.com/info2/childrenlearn-long_version.html and how about all of us? Did we end up doing what our parents told us to or did we end up doing as they did? If we had to make our own path or forge our own way, look how hard we had to work in order to break the chains of dysfunction!
Our lives are all about choices but some of these choices are actually commitments that demand us to take an unwavering allegiance: love vs. hate; right vs. wrong; good vs. evil.
If we’ve made a bad choice (evil over good) well guess what? We STILL have the ability to change that and choose good over evil the next time! Just because you’ve chosen poorly once doesn’t destine you to do it again, yet at the same time if you’ve chosen good over evil, that’s a commitment you need to fight to keep! Why do I say, “You need to fight to keep?” Because the devil will always try to pull you off the right path when you’re not paying attention and in “innocent” entertaining ways too – like instant comradery between strangers at a restaurant – at the end of that day, who do you think smiled, God or satan?
How does this tie into domestic violence? It has EVERYTHING to do with it. If God is love and God gave us special people in our lives to love, why would we allow something bad and evil like domestic violence to touch it or come near it? Can we misuse “love” as an excuse to condone or protect an abuser? Sure – but again, ask yourself – under whose influence and what side are you standing on then?
Giving the devil his due is totally up to you but will ultimately lead to a bad end – a very bad end. Instead choose good, choose love, light, right and peace (and don’t confuse peace with passivity – another trick of the devil!)
Domestic violence is a purposefully complicated and tricky package deal – that’s what makes it so successful – but it is NOT so complicated as to be undetectable. Understanding the foundation of good vs. evil is the first step to seeing it; start looking at the world, life and events through the lens of good and evil and domestic violence will come into sharp focus fast.