by D. H. Lawrence
Alas, my poor young men, do you lack vitality?
Has the shell grown too heavy for the tortoise?
Does he just squirm?
Is the frame of things too heavy for poor young wretched men?
Do they jazz and jump and wriggle
and rush about in machines
and listen to bodiless noises
and cling to their thin young women
as to the last straw
just in desperation
because their spirit can’t move?
Because their hope is pinned down by the system
and can’t even flutter?
Well well, if it is so it is so;
the undaunted gods give vitality still to the dauntless.
And sometimes they give it as love,
ah love, sweet love,
not so easy!
But sometimes they give it as lightning.
And it’s no good wailing for love
if they only offer you lightning.
And it’s no good mooning for sloppy ease
when they’re holding out the thunderbolt for you to take.
You might as well take the lightning for once,
and feel it go through you.
You might as well accept the thunderbolt
and prepare for storms.
You’ll not get vitality any other way.
Over the past year I have engaged nearly daily in sharing with kindred souls in the Facebook group, “Journey of Integral Recovery.” All of us in this special group are openly in recovery from addictive behaviors of one kind or another, and all equally committed to a holistic, body/mind/spirit process of healing and renewal. One recurring theme which has arisen for all of us over this past year is the experience of discovering hidden gifts in having been once at the bottom, owing to addiction, and having now experienced a kind of personal resurrection into a newer, more creative, more vital life post-addiction. (Here I am using “addiction” in its original, etymological sense of “enslavement”; hence, the sense of freedom or liberation which follows on being released from “addictus.”)
I write this post right amidst the current, international wave of support catalyzing around the #MeToo movement, uniting all of whom have been subjected to sexual discrimination and harassment, most often at the hands of men. And I, myself, have made several, major life mistakes, with the injuries that accrued both tragically and inevitably, in this same vein. (For more details, I invite you to read my earlier post: “Living Amends” — http://www.drbobweathers.com/about/ .)
There is surely no single explanation that will make complete sense of what men in positions of power have done to their subordinates, most often women. But poet D.H. Lawrence here at least invites us to consider the theme of men’s collective psychologies, which too often vitiate authentic spirituality, and the hope (and morality) which may accompany it.
Instead, men are left with poor-form, addictive substitutes for real love, which degenerate over time into the many egocentric abuses currently coming to light across the planet. French revolutionary Voltaire called upon his peers to “remember the cruelties.” There will be no healing if such abuses and cruelties are any longer simply “forgiven-and-forgotten,” that is, repressed.
But healing, to make a lasting difference, must also find creative ways for men* to learn a new way of being, or “vitality.” One in which we men face our collective shadow, including our projecting onto women* our unworked-through developmental wounds, as well as our unlived potentials.
Having once been confronted with the painful realities of the abuses, the cruelties, perpetrated to now, men must next own the wrongs we have done. And then commit to do whatever it takes, by making living amends through repairing, in relationship to women, that which is so desperately in need of healing.
“ We’ll not get vitality any other way.”
*I use “men” and “women” here in as much the psychological sense (i.e., masculine vis-a-vis feminine) as that of biological gender. Both/and.