|Words and photo by F LoBuono|
As a young man, I was, in many ways, obsessed with violence. ALL of my heroes were Men of Machismo: Heracles, Caesar, Napoleon, Patton, Marciano. The more powerful, the better. All of them seemed to have achieved greatness, if not immortality, through violence. I admired the strongest, the toughest, the fastest, the meanest. They dripped with testosterone. I loved war movies and could spend countless hours playing with toy soldiers. At my parents house in Fort Lee, I would stage huge battles by organizing the acorns I gathered from the trees in the yard into elaborate armies. Of course, I was the Field Marshall.
I played the most violent sports. I LOVED playing football and excelled particularly at the defensive positions. In fact, despite my lack of great size or speed, I set my college football team record for the most tackles in a single season (the team was eventually disbanded). I enjoyed the physicality of the game. I boxed, entering a tournament at Rutgers University as a light-heavyweight. I was also a college weightlifting champion.
I looked for things that were the most physically challenging. I continually drove myself to do more and more difficult things. I needed to prove something- not only to others but, most importantly, to myself. I needed to KNOW that I could take it. And, I always believed that to think it was not enough - you had to LIVE it.
At the same time, I was incredibly conflicted. In my heart and in my very soul, I am a truly gentle person - so much so that I think that I did all of these violent and physical things to hide that fact: it's not easy being a gentle man in a VIOLENT WORLD. We are surrounded by images of macho-men who settle disputes at the end of gun barrel. I needed to prove that I COULD be as violent in order to survive in a world where violence is virtually worshipped. And, it hasn't changed. In the time it has taken me to write this, with my TV on in the background, there have been 3 commercial ads for new films - one more violent than the next.
But, the older that I get the more committed I am to the path of NON-violence.
I have always believed in the transcendent power of love and remain convinced that the path of non-violence is the ONLY way to the salvation of the human race. TRUE courage lies in the ability to accept this. We have been shown the Way countless times by a multitude of messengers that we sometimes worship and still too often ultimately ignore. At this time of year, we call it Christmas Spirit. Whether, we practice it for what it actually represents is a matter of interpretation.
If we don't have the courage to resist our baser instincts, especially to retaliate when we are wronged, we are destined to repeat the cycle of violence and we will never achieve peace in our time. And, being wronged isn't restricted solely to the physical. Mental transgressions are often more painful and long lasting. I found myself particularly egregious with the later. I have learned to control my temper, mostly, physically, but I'm still still capable of mental warfare. And, if I am guilty of these things, I must acknowledge that they exist in others. In extension, if we wish for others to forgive us our sins, we must respond in kind.
It really is that simple.
But, it is also HARD because it takes an extraordinary amount of courage. It takes the fortitude of belief. It means letting go. But, to do so you must first ask (and, answer) this: if you have no fear in the face of brutality, who is the more courageous - the brute, or the one who resists the brute? Millions profess this every Sunday but few LIVE it. You know, turn the other cheek and stuff. You either accept the doctrine or you don't.
Now, at this moment in history, at this time of the Season, when we prepare to receive The Prince of Peace and profess Good Will to All Men, we must recommit ourselves to the WORD - not withstanding the strictly religious connotation - and the word is LOVE - Only love Conquers Hate.
MERRY CHRISTMAS-HAPPY HOLIDAY-PEACE ON EARTH