guns, grandmothers and steel.
love from a steel coffee shop in cape town called “truth and coffee”. want some truth? i’m ready, mofos.
no fucking day goes as planned, does it.
i just spent three solid days in the recording studio and this was my first off day with the exception of a single interview.
i was all psyched to catch up on basic business email/admin and tour promo when i woke up to the fucking news from america that, yet again, a troubled teenager being with a gun decided to kill a bunch of innocent people…many of them kids. a wave of sadness, as usual. tears as i read the accounts of the kids.
and here i am in south africa, which has its own problems and fuckshow, and where we gathered around the radio yesterday listening to epic history unfolding as zuma resigned as president after 10 years in power. the water crisis and Day Zero (when the taps will get shut off) has been pushed later. it rained the other night and the thunder sounded like a message direct from god. we discussed on the “state of the labia” webcast the other day how south africa gets a rap as the “rape capital of the world” (whether or not it’s actually true is in question, but the stats are bad, and “corrective rape” is common here.)
and i was expecting to sit down this morning and finally have a nice calm look at my fucking email and tour dates and instead, i got my daily email from TED (i try to keep track of all the talks, but with a 2-year-old and a new talk every day, i probably only watch 3% of them) and something about the subject made me need to click. the talk is by dixon chibana, a psychiatrist…one of, i shit you not, only 12 in the entire country of zimbabwe. he gave the talk at TEDwomen in 2017.
and there it was, all connected.
i don’t think TED did this on purpose. there’s no way they could have known how utterly connected the posting of this talk today could be to the world events. but sometimes the synchronicity happens.
“The word “kufungisisa” opens up a floodgate of tears. So, kufungisisa is the local equivalent of depression in my country. It literally means “thinking too much.” The World Health Organization estimates that more than 300 million people globally, today, suffer from depression, or what in my country we call kufungisisa. And the World Health Organization also tells us that every 40 seconds,someone somewhere in the world commits suicide because they are unhappy, largely due to depression or kufungisisa. And most of these deaths are occurring in low- and middle-income countries….
So I thought, how about training grandmothers in evidence-based talk therapy, which they can deliver on a bench? Empower them with the skills to listen, to show empathy, all of that rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy; empower them with the skills to provide behavior activation, activity scheduling;and support them using digital technology. You know, mobile phone technology. Pretty much everyone in Africa has a mobile phone today. So in 2006, I started my first group of grandmothers…”
so, ok. ignore the mild gender problems…i don’t know where the grandfathers are sitting in all this. we’ll ask dixon about that later.
but this. the simple message: human beings don’t have to rely on a top-down system of care and empathy. this is a new concept. and this is where the bizarre paradox of “are you a Creepy Libertarian who thinks the government should fuck off or a Good Democrat who believes in Universal Free Health Care” comes up. well: ok, i’m the latter. but also, we have to survive. especially in dire days when the resources are scarce. we just HAVE to do a better job, NOW, of taking care of each other.
and we just aren’t. we aren’t listening to each other. we aren’t seeing the obvious, base, lack of connection. our human tribe is becoming fundamentally broken. too many people are too alone. when too many people are too alone, too many alone-people get depressed and hopeless. if it gets bad enough, they kill themselves. or worse: they kill each other.
it’s a circle. as we know…it isn’t just about gun control. although you could make a pretty bullet-fucking-proof argument that if this kid hadn’t been able to access the sorts of guns he used, these kids in florida, in las vegas, in every state of the union EVERY DAY….simply wouldn’t be dead. they just wouldn’t. be. dead.
again and again and again and again this happens in my country.
there IS A SCHOOL SHOOTING – not just a “mass shooting” – EVERY 60 HOURS IN AMERICA. every 60 hours. how insane is that?
and: pull the focus wide and look at the people committing the shootings.
alone. unseen. disenfranchised. with access to guns. alone. unseen. disenfranchised. with access to guns.
granted: trump is trying to dismantle access to health care. things will get worse.
granted: trump will, again, send thoughts and prayers and ignore this shooting and the gun lobby will protect the rights of people to own automatic weapons. things will get worse.
but somewhere in here, inspired by the insanity of trump and this administration, there is a broader revolution that is growing roots, and this TED talk helps point the way out. it’s a revolution of communities taking back their tribal-human instincts, of “all the lonely people” finding one another, of a turn away from the isolation that has become the epidemic of our times….of empathy and human connection in the face of totalitarianism and fear-mongering and hopelessness.
there is no reason for people to be so alone….we just have to find new systems of connecting them.
and THIS, this, this, is what is going to start turning things around in a fundamental way.
american gun control will have to happen. the american mental health care system will have to catch up with the rest of the first world.
but under it all: empathy. connection. a vast, constant, profound reminder that we cannot live lives of isolation and turning our back on our human brothers and sisters. it never had worked, and it never will work.
i love you.
and i’m sending all my love today especially, to the states, where another day, another shooting, another round of “thoughts and prayers” is probably making a whole lot of people feel really sad and powerless.
change will come. lead with empathy.
p.s. i am working on a BRAND NEW surprise-even-to-met THING having run into a fcuking incredible south african MC named patty monroe. we are trying to merge punk cabaret piano with hip-hop. i don’t know if it’s gonna work but goddamit we are going to try. recordings forthcoming. all care of the patreon and your support, so thank you, and patty is fucking STOKED.
maybe more art will also help the global fuckshow.
———THE NEVER-ENDING AS ALWAYS———
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