We walk through this world feeling unseen, unheard, unloved. And part of that is because we are not seeing and hearing and loving others. We’re so busy fighting to be seen that we’re forgetting that we are others. And we need to do our part to see people and to acknowledge them instead of fighting to be seen ourselves.Derek DelGaudio, The Daily Beast Interview, January 29, 2021
Last Monday night, Kurt and I watched the filmed version of the show “In & Of Itself” that played to packed audiences in New York from May 2016 to August 2018. The show stars the indelible Derek DelGaudio, who plows headlong into the thicket of identity and the illusion of identity–how people around us only see a fraction of who we are and, by that tip of the iceberg, proceed to define us.
Derek DelGaudio who created and wrote the show, began his career as a magician doing some of the best sleight-of-hand tricks you will ever witness. He demonstrates some of his mastery of cards during In & Of Itself, but he is also a storyteller and conceptual artist extraordinaire. What he accomplishes in this performance is simply beyond belief–and yet it is authentic and moving as well.
Every secret has a unique weight to it, and you can only carry them for so long.Derek DelGaudio, in the film, “In & Of Itself”
Derek DelGaudio’s secret as a small boy was that his mother loved women. Trying to keep that secret so he could have friends, and not be bullied, made his life a misery–and somehow the bullies and would-be friends always found out his secret anyway.
Why do so many people bully others? Why did his schoolmates’ parents not allow their children to be friends with a boy whose mother was a lesbian? Why did those parents and classmates decide to reduce Derek’s mother to one part of her life–to define her by only one aspect of her humanity? Why do so many people refuse to see that all the isms around us reduce humans to our skin color, where we were born, what accent we have, what religion we practice, or who we love?
Isn’t that the crux of the matter in our country and world? So many people insist they can only feel better about themselves by denigrating others. So many people find anyone who is different from them to be impossible to tolerate. Perhaps these unhappy people do not feel seen, heard, or loved. It is so much easier to seek a scapegoat than to deal with the fear inside.
I cannot help but believe this is why the angry mob broke into our nation’s Capitol Building on January 6, while our nation’s legislators were certifying the 2020 Electoral College results from our 50 states.
I did not see happy faces assaulting Capitol police officers. These people believed if they listened to their chosen leader and followed his directions, they could overturn the results of a national election. Their anger, fear, and hatred for people who do not look like them and do not think like them, led them to assault our Constitution and the Capitol police and DC officers who came to help. And, if the mob had been successful, and captured members of Congress, who knows what they would have done to them.
People died. A young woman was trampled. Another was shot. A Capitol police officer was killed. Two Capitol police officers committed suicide. Because of hate, misinformation, and wanting our former President to remain President.
I tried to understand the madness and could only cry for my country. I have never been so overwhelmed with sadness for my homeland–the country that made the difference in defeating Hitler in World War II, and then helped our former enemies rebuild their countries. The country that has been a source of inspiration to oppressed people around the world.
How to understand how formerly law-abiding, 99 percent white, middle-class people could storm the U.S. Capitol Building? So many reasons, including: because their President asked them to. However, there is another reason many people chose to drive across the country and put their lives and futures on the line.
To fill the black hole that is inside them. To feel powerful because they had the answer: they were supporting the man they felt should be in power. Damn the torpedoes. Down with the ship, the dictatorship. But would it make them happy, would they be more important, would they have better jobs, would their children have better lives, would their own lives suddenly have meaning?
Because meaning is what we are really looking for. As Viktor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor, physician, and author of Man’s Search for Meaning, wrote:
. . . it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.
The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, . . . gives him ample opportunity–even under the most difficult circumstances–to add a deeper meaning to his life. [He] may remain brave, dignified, and unselfish. Or in the bitter fight for self-preservation he may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal.
Only slowly could these men be guided back to the commonplace truth that no one has the right to do wrong, not even if wrong has been done to them.Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
From his research, as well as his experience watching people who survived in concentration camps and those who did not, Frankl wrote that people find meaning in life: (1) by working toward a worthwhile goal, (2) “by experiencing something–such as goodness, truth and beauty” and by (3) “experiencing another human being in his very uniqueness–by loving him.”
We need to reach outside our boxes–the ones we put ourselves in and the ones other people put us in–and see others, hear others, and love others. The only real happiness in life is in serving others, thinking of others, and making a difference in the lives of others.
That is why those angry, lost souls besieged and broke into the U.S. Capitol Building; that is why some of them wiped their own excrement on the walls of the sacred house of the American people. They thought they could fill the black holes inside themselves if they could get more power and more control over the lives of others. What a false narrative!
It is only when we seek to see, listen, help, serve, and love that we fill the black hole within us and become a light to help ourselves and others. Stop staring at your own navel, and raise your sights to the true source of happiness: community, understanding, and love.
~ Anna – 1/31/2021