Metal and Edges

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Excerpt from “Metal and Edges”

“Autumn is the time of distinction and separation and edges forming in terms of the Chinese custom of beheading criminals in the autumn. In the autumn you butcher animals, because instead of feeding them through the winter, you eat them through the winter. You also have all the harvest in and you know how much food there is to feed the village, and then the decision is made, how many people who are in the jails right now can we feed and also be able to feed the children? And if the answer is ‘not many,’ this is when the criminals are beheaded. It’s not angry, it’s not judgmental, it’s judicious. This is what we need to do.

Do you understand this? It’s a particular attitude that is part of what love looks like in Metal. Severity. A kind of severity not for the sake of severity, but a severity that has experienced abundance and knows what mercy is and now sees that winter is coming. Metal is the conduit between the abundance of late summer, and the utter scarcity of winter. How do we hone? How do we move from that abundance to that scarcity?

It’s nothing personal—it’s what needs to be done for the greater good—and Metal’s love is that ability to say, ‘We have to kill you now.’ Right? It’s the executioner! The Lung is the Supreme Court, the Colon is the executioner. To be a good butcher, to be a good executioner, is to do this from an impartial space that says, ‘For the greater good, there goes the goat,’ or, ‘For the greater good, there goes the axe murderer,’ so that we have enough food to feed the people. It’s a very important thing not to be in denial of.

I think about it a lot in all the health care debates. I think that this is going to have to be part of the conversation—you know what? We don’t have the resources to do everything for everybody. If we are going to feed the children, what are we going to have to cut in terms of the incredible expenses of the last six months of your life in the hospital trying to prolong your life when it’s clear that you’re dying? Or whatever it might be, but a good hard look from Metal, from righteousness, from that which aligns with not what I want, nor what you want, but what will bring the greatest value to the greatest number of people. What going to go? Where’s the sacrifice going to be?

There was this article in the Brattleboro reformer the other day about, ‘When are we going to stop talking about how much something costs and start talking about what the people actually need?’ Yes, it’s good to hear from the Earth Element, and what the people need is more than we can necessarily afford—somebody’s going to take the hit, who’s it going to be? And Metal is the ability, the virtue of Metal, the transformation from grief to righteousness, is the ability to say, ‘Okay, build the bypass through my farm. Not because I don’t love my farm, but because I love my farm so much that I understand that my losing the farm will allow all these other farmers in the neighborhood to be able to continue. It’s best for the community. I see that. My allegiance is to a good higher than my personal preference, but it’s because of my understanding of what is value that I am able to say, impartially, with righteousness, the greater good is more important.’”