Friday, October 1, 2010

St. Milarepa

St. Milarepa
acrylic on paper

I heard about Tyler Clementi on the radio yesterday. As a mother, I felt utterly crushed. The shy, gifted young man took his own life after his college room mate outed him by secretly recording Tyler Clementi's romantic encounter with another man and streaming it live on the internet.

(From the Huffington Post)

The shocking suicide of a college student whose sex life was broadcast over the Web illustrates yet again the Internet's alarming potential as a means of tormenting others and raises questions whether young people in the age of Twitter and Facebook can even distinguish public from private.

(and from

Clementi's death was part of a string of suicides last month involving youngsters who were believed to have been victims of anti-gay bullying. Fifteen-year-old Billy Lucas hanged himself in a barn in Greensburg, Ind. Asher Brown, 13, shot himself in the head in Houston. And 13-year-old Seth Walsh of Tehachapi, Calif., hanged himself from a tree in his backyard.

I won't pretend to even know what was happening in the minds of Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei, the two students who have been charged with invasion of privacy. I can only say that deciding, somewhere in our consciousness, that another human being is not worthy of respectful treatment is just as hostile, just as hateful, just as damaging, as overt hate speech and physical violence. Excusing such disrespect as a "joke" or a "prank" is not acceptable. We all must be responsible for understanding our motivations. If our actions are not coming from a place of love, then where are they coming from? It is very, very dangerous not to understand the consequences of actions whose inception is in hate, disrespect and disregard. Ravi, Wei, their families, and the Clementi family will live with these consequences for the rest of their lives.

There are many spiritual teachings about the responsibility we bear for what resides in our hearts and how we allow it to direct our actions. My favorites are these:

"I have understood this body of mine to be the product of ignorance, composed of flesh and blood and lit up by the perceptive power of consciousness. To those fortunate ones who long for emancipation it may be the great vessel by which they may procure Freedom. But to the unfortunates who only sin, it may be the guide to lower and miserable states of existence. This our life is the boundary mark whence one may take an upward or downward path. Our present time is a most precious time, wherein each of us must decide, in one way or other, for lasting good or lasting ill." - St. Milarepa (emphasis mine)

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." - Jesus Christ

and finally:

"People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, It is between you and God;
It never was between you and them anyway."

- Author Unknown

I really wish Tyler Clementi had read this last part. If he had, he may have decided to live. As a mother, I want to say to any young gay person who is contemplating suicide: don't. You are loved, even if your family and community aren't accepting you, you are loved. There isn't a damn thing wrong with your being gay, except that a narrow minded, ignorant society is trying to make you suffer for it. Be strong, thrive, live your life, because the next generation is going to need you. The world needs you.


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