People were murdered on the west coast today and I don’t even know yet how many or why, not that there can be a logical why or that it will matter, anyway, when the facts are presented. People were murdered on the west coast today.
I’ve already seen posts urging me to sign a condolence card for the families of victims at Umpqua Community College. We don’t even talk about a tragedy in hushed tones and the past tense, anymore. When this particular tragedy was still unfolding, as far as I could see from the news, officials were referring to it as this tragic thing that had already happened, as this occurrence in a box with solid and known dimension that we could put on the shelf with all the others. Is it tragic? Yes. But when it’s still happening, when the bullets are screaming overhead and lives are bleeding out into the ground, it is not something we should refer to in the past tense. Not something we categorize as quickly as possible and move on.
It’s something we should fucking stop. Now.
I don’t know the people who died and are possibly dying in critical care right now (this time and yet), and in our full-to-overflowing world of people it’s hard, sometimes, to even summon the proper set of human emotions for your next door neighbor, let alone someone several hundred miles away, let alone someone on the opposite side of the world.
If we could feel, for just a moment, the full impact of every single injustice and murder and abuse to their fullest extents being experienced each day, I think we’d all just sink to our knees, whatever we were doing wherever we were, weeping.
So I get down on myself, I really do, for being able to post pictures of cats on the internet or pithy jokes about bodily functions, or even to take a moment to scream into the internet void any little personal frustration, in the face of all this.
Which is why I’ll reiterate time and again that the number one hashtag every white lady sitting comfortably in her goddamn library drinking her goddamn probiotic shake and typing her precious little feelings into a computer of dubious origin should be #perspective.
But I’m not immune or unfeeling. On the contrary, I feel a lot. I actually have too many fucks to give, which is why I cut through each day with the sharp edge of my tongue and the blunt edge of feigned indifference. If I don’t, wherever I am whatever I’m doing, I’ll just sink to my knees, weeping.
It’s not the sense of helplessness that overwhelms me. It’s rage. I’m paralyzed by the depth of my own rage, and the way it boils my blood and forces the breath from my lungs and how quickly it reduces my own humanity to a single desire to match violence for violence.
This I feel is the mistake of people who label progressives and liberals as ineffectual hippies frolicking in a some kind of nonstop, rarified community drum circle. It’s not that we don’t feel fear, or rage, or jealousy or hatred: it’s that the true progressive looks at those feelings in themselves and wants not to multiply them but reduce them, to make room for something better.
What I’m getting at, here, is that when I hear about gun violence, there is a lizard brain in me that wants to take up my own arms. When I hear about a foiled subway attack, or the closure of a world landmark because a couple of olive-skinned youth were spotted with big backpacks, I am not all that different from the guy who thinks Trump has some common sense ideas, who has a gunrack and a gun safe and a gun locker and some strong if misguided feelings about the second amendment.
Enough enough enough. How does it hurt anyone but those profiting off death-in-potentia to implement background checks for weapon ownership? To give help, not guns, to those channeling the rage that they too, have been screaming into the void until their voiceless erupts in violence?
I feel the creeping fear raising the animal hackles on my neck, too.
But the difference is, the difference is I take a deep fucking breath. I think about the world I want to live in, even when I have both eyes open to the world that is.
And if this makes me a sissy, a liberal, a lamb to the slaughter, so be it. I’m not going to spend my life so fixated on death and paralyzed by fear that I don’t live it, or spend my days making sure I’ve selfishly stockpiled the right amount of ammunition in direct correlation to how much more I value my life over someone else’s.
If in my travels I die in a terrorist attack, or by the gun of someone mentally ill or so malformed in the crucible of our racist, misogynist society that the only power they believe they have is the length and warmth of a fired shaft in their hand, so be it.
I’d rather go that way than crouched behind a bunker built of fear and exceptionalism. I’d rather go that way than compromise that what I want, realistically or no, is to realize the dream of peace.
Jesus. Peace to those in pain. Peace to those fighting for their lives. Peace to those whose lives are already lost. Peace to us all.