What my filly taught me

Kathie & Heidi, c. 1954

By Kathie MM

When I was thirteen, I tamed an outlaw horse named Heidi. She was pretty much a refugee from terror.

She was a small, beautiful, and initially rather wild Morgan horse who had been viciously beaten and neglected.

As a result of this mistreatment: she bucked ferociously as soon as someone mounted her; she rushed headlong into heavy underbrush trying to dislodge her rider; she jolted to sudden stops, pitching the rider forward; or, as a last resort, she dropped to her knees, then began to roll over onto  anyone trying to stay aboard.

I won her over through love and patience, long before anyone talked about “horse whisperers.” I stuck with her,  curried her, talked to her, and soothed her until she would accept me calmly, even joyfully, astride her.  Once I gained her trust, I rode her bareback  through the woods and onto beaches, using a hackamore bridle with no bit to pester her mouth.

Someone wrote an article about Heidi and me in the local paper.  I carried the clipping in my wallet for years ‑‑ long after the horrendous car accident, long after I couldn’t walk anymore.

During difficult teen times when I was hurt or upset ‑‑ at my mother, or father, or sister, or brothers, or some no good boyfriend– I would sit in the corner of Heidi’s box stall and feel sorry for myself. She would watch me for awhile, chewing her hay.  Finally, she’d come over and snuffle at my hair or cheek, and I would trundle back to civilization, feeling comforted.

Heidi & Kathie c. 1954

I learned a lot from Heidi–particularly, the rewards of being patiently persistent, kind, and understanding, and of working hard to earn trust.

I put myself in Heidi’s hooves, thinking how awful it must have felt to this magnificent, intelligent animal to be beaten and neglected, to nearly die from severe, untreated wounds, to have been grossly ill-treated by the human being who should have been taking care of her.

I learned als0 about the enormity of the love and empathy that could grow between very different beings who took a chance on each other, who didn’t assume from Day 1 that they already knew everything that needed to be known about the other.

I think these lessons contributed to the peace and non-violence advocate into which I evolved.  Patience, kindness, and empathy can serve many relationships with a vast range of “others.”



Posted in Champions of peace, Ethic of reciprocity, Nonviolence, Perspective-taking, Reconciliation and healing, Stories of engagement | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments


World War II Memorial, with statue of World War I memorial behind – Fitchburg, Massachusetts, USA. This work is in the public domain because it was first published without copyright notice prior to 1978. Author: Daderot

Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

For Memorial Day USA – 29 May 2017

What more can be said of war
That has not already been said,
That has not already been written,
That has not already been sung in song,
Recited in verse, shared in epic tales?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been committed to screen,
In iconic movies with legendary actors,
Fighting and dying in glory amidst waving flags,
Or in heralded documentaries, carefully
Edited with photos, letters, poignant words
Of lament spoken, amid haunting tunes?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been sculpted in marble,
Painted on canvases,
Photographed in black and white,
And vivid color,
Revealing blood is red, bone is white,
Death is endless.

What more can be said of war
That has not already been inscribed in minds and bodies
Of soldiers who survived,
Civilians who endured,
Prisoners captive to trauma,
Scars visible and invisible?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been carved
On ordered granite gravestones,
In national cemeteries, honoring sacrifice,
Their death veiled in shade and sunlight?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been said about heroes and villains,
Soldiers and generals,
Warriors and misfits,
Freedom fighters and terrorists,
Victims and collateral damage,
Apologies and reparations?

What more can be said of war,
That has not already been said about
Glorious and evil causes,
Lusts for power and control,
Access to wealth and resources,
Messianic responsibilities, moral duties,
Domination . . . ascendancy . . .   Revenge?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been eulogized
On fields of battle,
Where lives were lost, minds seared,
And historians’ crafts polished
With the biased narratives of victors:
Waterloo, Hue, Fallujah?
There is no winner in war!

And why, if so much has been
Spoken, written, and engraved,
Why do the lessons of war,
Continue to be ignored, denied, distorted?
And now  . . .  Syria?

I wrote this poem in the course of two days as I witnessed the tragedy of death and suffering in Syria, bewildered again and again, by the endless uses of so many death technologies. I was dismayed by a score of nations pursuing selfish interests, engaging in ethnic and tribal cleansing and genocide. We are living with endless war. Nothing more can be said about war. Violence begets violence, war begets war! No cries of noble responsibilities to protect and defend from either side are sufficient or warranted. They are merely part of the tactics, strategies, and policies sustaining war. Who benefits from war?

 This poem was first published in TRANSCEND Media Service on September 2, 2013. The poem is also included in two of volumes I have published: Marsella, A.J. (2014). Poems across time and place: A journey of heart and mind. Alpharetta, GA: Aurelius Press, Pages 63-65; Marsella, A.J. (2014). War, peace, justice: An unfinished tapestry. Alpharetta, GA: Aurelius Press, Pages 55-57. The poem may be circulated.

Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D., a  member of the TRANSCEND Network, is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii, and past director of the World Health Organization Psychiatric Research Center in Honolulu. He is known nationally and internationally as a pioneer figure in the study of culture and psychopathology who challenged the ethnocentrism and racial biases of many assumptions, theories, and practices in psychology and psychiatry. In more recent years, he has been writing and lecturing on peace and social justice. He has published 15 edited books, and more than 250 articles, chapters, book reviews, and popular pieces. He can be reached at marsella@hawaii.edu.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 29 May 2017.

Posted in Armed conflict, Poetry and the arts, politics, Propaganda, Tolerance, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Think back: When did YOU last feel terrorized by somebody?

by Kathie MM

Camp Pendleton Counseling Services’ POWER Workshop is a program designed to help service members and their families overcome domestic violence and child abuse. This image is a work of a U.S. military or Department of Defense employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. In the public domain.

The corporate media, when it does not have enough juicy crime and scandal stories to shock and awe, often provides us with a new episode in the “war on terror”.

Internationally, the dominant approach to combatting terror appears to be using or threatening more terror.

I think we know how well that has served us. (Is the world safer for democracy yet?)

Fundamentally, there appears to be little global appreciation for the complexity, the pervasiveness, the insidiousness of terrorizing–that is,  the human propensity to “fill with terror or anxiety,” “scare,” or “coerce by threat or violence.”

Let’s face it, wherever there is an imbalance of power, there is a potential for terrorizing.

Often, throughout history, in much of the world, men have terrorized women (including husbands terrorizing wives), first borns have  terrorized later borns (think of Cain and Abel), members of different gangs have  terrorized each other, bullies have terrorized whomever they can, and, sadly, the rich and powerful have terrorized the poor and meek (who seem to have a long way to go before they will be allowed to inherit the earth).

If we are going to have a successful war on terror, we need to take an ecological approach; that is, we need to tackle terrorizing at all levels of society—in the home, in the neighborhood, in the broader community, in states, and in the international community.

Terrorizing behavior is contagious—once you allow it into your home, it can go viral.

There are lots of efforts underway that can help inhibit terrorizing as a power-wielding, power-seeking tactic—domestic violence prevention programs, anti-bullying programs, women’s rights programs, civil rights programs, and a wide range of United Nations human rights initiatives.

All of these programs have flaws; after all, they were developed by human beings.  However, if you want to participate in the most general, most far-reaching, most likely-to-succeed war on terror, then supporting , defending, trying to improve, and contributing to the success of those programs is as good a place to start as any.

Posted in Democracy, Human rights, Media, politics, Poverty, Propaganda, Protest, racism, social justice, Terrorism, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments