Our Present Darkness

by James R. Campbell

What follows is perhaps one of the most difficult pieces I have written for Word Matters. For obvious reasons, it is troubling, it isn’t the sort of cheerful story I like to write. I have written about various topics because they need to be written about, but even this isn’t the type of thing I normally write for the people who read this blog. I can only hope that other readers can wade through it.

Right now, I feel compelled to address a story that has made the rounds in our area for the last two weeks. A twenty-two year old girl was last seen on October 12th near the state University in Alpine, Texas where she attended classes. Her name is Zu Zu Verk, she was majoring in biology and conservation.

Zu Zu Verk - Last Profile Pic on Facebook

Zu Zu Verk – Last Profile Pic on Facebook

Her boyfriend is the last known person to see her, yet he refuses to cooperate with the authorities in any manner whatsoever. The Texas Attorney General has been brought in, in order for a grand jury to force the witnesses to come forward with information. At this point, all indications point to foul play in the girl’s disappearance.

I can’t remember a story that has gripped this area the way this one has. We want the best, we pray earnestly for it, but hope fades with each passing day. The family has pleaded with the boyfriend, to no avail. And his attorney is of no help. While their behavior is protected by our Constitution that does not mean that it is acceptable. The question becomes all too clear: what do we have to do? Must we make a deal with the devil before this ordeal comes to an end?

I must admit, I watch the news, because I want to know. But I get the sense that, like me, the public is both fascinated and revolted by the stories that have emerged. We watch this play out with impending fear of what is to be, we feel helpless because we can’t turn back the hands of time and redo this whole panoply that is playing out before our eyes.

What happened here is an all-too familiar tale; it happens all too frequently. It could be in any city or small town. Here, yet again, we see a horrifying dramatization of what has become of our modern society. Those of us who are more sensitive than others feel as if we’re stuck in limbo; the wheels are coming off, normal people can’t sort it all out.

And yet, life goes on: the weather in Odessa is nice, unusually warm for this time of year. We have our families, including our pets. We go shopping, we go out to eat at restaurants, and we go through each day as we must.

There is still much good in the world, although we find it hard to see it right now. Our hearts are breaking, and yet we do what we do each day. The world won’t stop just because of this one episode; we enjoy what we can, and suffer what we must. We regard both joy and suffering as a fact of life. This instruction is what help me live through this time; it was given to the followers of a Japanese priest who lived in the 13th century, and now I am passing this instruction on to you.

Yes, I get knots in my stomach, yes, I feel under threat of being overwhelmed by sorrow, I am extremely angry at the boyfriend and his friends and family. If there was one thing I would say to these people, it is this: there will not be another day that goes by that you will not think of this, despite your pleas for forgiveness, if anything has happened to this girl, and you are the guilty party, your transgression cannot be erased. Even though we are supposed to reserve judgment, the actions of these people make it almost impossible for us not to judge them, and that is regrettable.

Many may not necessarily agree with some of my views; that’s all right. The bigger question has to do with the greater meaning of what we have been put through. I spend much of my day meditating and creating new projects to become involved in, because, frankly, I am out of things to do. One of the projects I am involved in is a petition to the Metrosonix Company in New Jersey. They make a stand-alone internet radio. The trouble with the radio is the fact that it is not readily accessible for the blind. There are two groups for the blind in Midland and Odessa, even if I never join either group, I wouldn’t mind working as an independent advisor to both. I mentioned this because these projects illustrate the struggle I am going through.

I often think about my life, and the heritage I will leave behind after I die. When we face death, the only thing we take with us are the causes we have made in this previous existence. To die with the fewest regrets is the ultimate heritage of life. I try my best to live a life that is consistent with the creation of positive value in our society. Each of us can only do what we can, but we must fulfill our mission in life. It seems to me that to do anything else is to give those who may be responsible for what happened to the girl the satisfaction they don’t deserve.

If you are reading what is written here, take heart. I have this advice for those in a similar situation. Pray for these five things:

Faith for a harmonious family. The family is the bedrock on which we stand. Family is the linchpin of society, without good families, we have no society. Everybody has a part; we must love, depend, and support one another.

Faith for absolute happiness. Happiness that is based on external circumstances is fleeting, this kind of happiness crumbles. Absolute happiness comes from within, and can’t be destroyed. If we are absolutely happy, we can weather any storm.

Faith for overcoming obstacles. Each day brings challenges we must face; some big, some small. Without faith to surmount challenges, even the smallest boulder would be daunting. Faith to overcome difficulties provides us with strength as we climb the rocks on our path to happiness.

Faith for health and longevity. Our health is our most important asset, therefore we must guard it. Yes, there are times when accidents and illness come to us; this is one of the four sufferings. But it is up to us to ensure that we are healthy so we may live long enough to carry out our life’s purpose.

Faith for absolute victory. If the last four or five years of one’s life are miserable, one’s life ends in defeat. If one’s last years are filled with absolute happiness, than even in death, we are victorious, and that victory will be the ultimate legacy we may leave behind when we depart this world.

May whatever god or higher spirit we believe in grant us the help and strength we need. We will not be deterred. One sunny day, we will find our way out of this, and when we do, if we live long enough, we will look back and remember that our collective grief brought us together. Time and eternity will not forget, even after our society disintegrates in to the dust of history. ,

As always, thanks for your time.

 With Loving Kindness,

About the Author

James R. Campbell, 61, is poet and writer living with total blindness. He has a Bachelor’s in psychology. He has written articles for the Matilda Ziegler Magazine and Consumervision. A a member of Behind our Eyes, Campbell has three poem collections on CD. They can be downloaded at Recordinglibrary.org. In his free time, he likes cooking, playing harmonica, reptiles, and keeping up with current events.

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