My purpose is to try and bring to you a glimmer of light in your day. As boldly evident, there is much darkness; and whether I write about habit change, attitude, communication, or attempt to crack wise; that objective remains my North Star. To stay true to course, I attempt to steer free of politics (although those who know me know that I have very strong opinions).
Today, I cannot be silent; it would be morally wrong. Moreover, honestly, I am also finding it near impossible to remain hopeful. That is not me.
We are chewed up yet again by horrific, tragic, awful, terrible, unconscionable, outrageous stories of more mass shootings. This time, the names of the cities are El Paso and Dayton. (Gilroy, barely a week past, seems a distant memory.) I list only cities, as posting the victims’ names would heartbreakingly take more column inches than allocated print space.
I – and I imagine, you – feel like I have been rammed head-first through a meat grinder of emotions unwelcomed, undesirable, and uninvited; mercilessly whipped by a cat o’ nine tails in a sinister torture scene from a B-quality horror movie. We are pin balls bouncing through shock, fear, disbelief, powerlessness, grief, anger; desperately attempting to reclaim balance and serenity, only again to be rocketed off against our desires into the emotional sewage. It is a nightmare from which we cannot pinch ourselves awake.
Whereby we attempt to shield our damaged psyche in denial and say – more a prayer than a fact – it cannot happen here; that too is what the people of Orlando, Las Vegas, and Poway most assuredly believed. It could be Old Town Eureka, the Walmart in Ukiah, or the Tehama District Fairgrounds. Repercussions are already rippling through society: A motorcycle backfires in Times Square; terrified people run for their lives, causing a stampede. Sales of bulletproof children’s backpacks have doubled. I know I’m not the only person who looks for the nearest exit when I sit in a quiet restaurant, or forces down a twinge of fear as the lights lower in a movie theater.
Whether or not bullets ring out, we are already victimized, living in a real-life Edvard Munch painting, screaming to the cosmos, only to have what appears to be silence as the answer.
I am struggling; that is apparent.
But as with Pandora’s box, I must believe hope still exists. I cannot – and will not – let go of the belief that at the core of humanity is indeed that: Humanity. Among the carnage, we witness heroes sacrificing all to save strangers. Passersby run toward the catastrophe to rescue children, later saying “anyone would have done the same.” (I’m not sure that’s true.)
We are horrified NOT because these despicable events represent who we are but because they most definitely DO NOT. Should we ever accept these mutant, abhorrent, aberrations as commonplace, then that undeniably is the hour we must pack it in, give it up, and lock the doors.
Be afraid, and angry, and confused. Feel the bile that comes with violence. Grieve and mourn the innocent victims. Cry into your pillow and pound the bed.
But, when those feelings fade, if only for a moment, reject to be silent. Pray. Hold vigils. March. Demand our leaders “Do something.” Do not give in – even for a moment – to those who say this is standard fare.
But more than those, dig deeper within to find the compassion we so need for others on this journey, especially strangers. Know they too are grieving. They too are frightened. Reach out. Join hands.
We know this is going to take time. There is no panacea, no pill to cure all. Yet, as true as the horror of that to which we stand witness is the certainty that there is no way that giving more love and compassion to others will make this worse. It might be a truism, but it is accurate. Only love can conquer hate.
We will get past this – not quickly enough – but only if we do it together.