Tuesday, August 12, 2014

All I can do

Ferguson burns. Tear gas and rubber bullets and hate. The rest of the county is on edge, because it hits a little too close to home. Most of us have ties to Ferguson. We were born there, grew up there, still have family there. Many of us have ties to cops, and know how much their families worry when they have to go into unpredictable situations where nothing makes sense. Because really, what's going on up there doesn't make sense at all. Civic leaders and even the boy's parents are calling for peaceful demonstrations, patience to let justice work, and yet...and yet people devolve into their most base selves, channeling groupthink and blind rage and valuing stolen candy over community, ignoring their better angels who whisper, "This. This is wrong."

A world-class humorist died, taken by his own hand. The person who brought laughter to so many others couldn't, in the end, make himself laugh when he needed it most. "What does he have to be depressed about?" That's not how depression works. At all. I have felt first-hand the pain of suicide, of feeling the world's loss of such tremendous talent. So much to give, so much to lose. This reminds me of my own experience, all those years ago.

Fundamentalist assholes half a world away insist that their way is the only way, that everyone else must bow to their beliefs and if not, you'll be killed. Or even if so, you'll be killed. As if it's a sport, as if their souls won't be stained by the blood of the innocent, as if they won't rot in whatever kind of hell their religion has laid out.

A professional race car driver known for his temper hit and killed a young driver in a sprint car race. People are arguing on the internet. He did it intentionally. It was an accident. You can hear him rev his engine right before he hit the kid. That kid shoulda never got out of his damn car on a hot track. Round and round. 

I went to bed last night unaware of what was going on in Ferguson, and never dreaming that Robin Williams would take his own life or that CNN would show a photo of a grinning young boy holding the severed head of a man his parents told him was "the enemy"or that people can rush to judgment about people they've never met based on a few highly publicized actions.

I hate not having the answer, not knowing what I should do, much less what we should do. It makes me feel small, insignificant, powerless.

But then I realized that I can only do what I can do, which is show as much love and patience and acceptance as I possibly can, even when it's hard. Stop judging. Start loving.

Today was rough. The media (both social and traditional) was filled with so much negativity. I want my Sunday night back, where my biggest problem was my kid begging me to read her yet another chapter of Little House on the Prairie before she went to bed. Ignorance is bliss.

However, I know that those who do not learn history (and all this is history in the making) are doomed to repeat it. So I must continue to watch and listen, even when it's hard, even when it doesn't make sense. And above all, I must continue to love. My heart breaks for the parents of the boy killed in Ferguson. Doesn't matter how it happened or whether he "asked for it." There are two parents up there who have outlived their child, which is just about the worst tragedy I can imagine. My heart breaks for the parents of the sprint car driver killed. My heart breaks for the people facing the unrelenting, irrational rage of ISIS, who have watched their families decimated and who live in fear. My heart breaks for the people who knew and loved Robin Williams, who are questioning themselves right now, wondering if there was something they could have done.

I pray for all of these people, and anyone suffering in our world tonight. It's all I can do.


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