Wednesday, September 25, 2013
It seems that every time I open the newspaper or turn on the television there's fodder for my blog. Police shooting citizens, a mall taken over by terrorists, a mass shooting in the Navy Yard. Rachel Maddow shares some statistics about the uptick in mass shootings over the past few years and it's alarming. Really alarming. Starbucks comes out with a watered-down policy about gun-toting coffee drinkers, putting profits before the safety of their patrons. To tell you the truth, right now I only want to look away.
This past weekend we spent time with family and new friends. We were in a small Massachusetts town. There were children and babies and soon-to-be borns in the crowd and I kept thinking, "What is the world like for those six, seven and eight year old children? What is it going to be like?" I wondered how the parents will handle the internet and the questions they are bound to have about a world blown wide apart by violence and too much openness, about access to all the information in the world at their fingertips. In one very touching moment, two of the children talked about being bullied and comforted each other.
Late one afternoon, I sat on the front porch of our rental house and watched the sun go down. I was alone for the first time in two days and I felt this deep sadness for the turmoil that families face from within and without.
I again came back to my questions about what is causing this surge in violence in our world. The possible answers were all the same: guns, media, lack of quality mental health care, stress over jobs andmoney, insecurity and feelings of unworthiness in our young people. One of them or all of them. I don't know.
As I hugged my girls goodbye, I said the usual things: Call me when you get home. I love you. See you soon. And today I'm unwilling to think about the violence that I see in the paper and on television, choosing instead to think only of home, my love for my family, and the anticipation of seeing them again. It's all small, and it doesn't begin to address the violence in the world in the way I first hoped when I promised you readers to talk about it, but it's all I'm capable of looking at right now.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
The despair I felt on that day and the months that followed has faded, but I still carry with me the knowledge that we're vulnerable, we Americans who have assigned ourselves the task of ruling the world, taking care of everybody else at the expense of our own children, who put money before everything else, push our dogmatic opinions about how people should believe on those perfectly happy with their own beliefs. We who look the other way at some atrocities but shine the spotlight on the ones that we will benefit from preventing. We who have a few leaders who are in some ways as corrupt and unresponsive as the mightiest dictator.
And yet, and yet, I still believe that America has the power to be important in the world in all the right ways. A belief that is based on looking around at my friends and my churches and my children, and seeing an idealism that can't be suppressed. A belief that is reinforced when one church prays solidly for twenty-four hours for peace, another sends a group to do work for the impoverished, when I hug my daughters good-bye, when I kiss the cheek of a friend or hear another say I must write my Congressman because she believes the system still works. A belief that becomes more imperative as the old generation in my family dies away and we bring new life into a world that must be supported by hope and compassion.
This morning I stood in my kitchen thinking about this day twelve years ago. This song came on my IPod and cornily enough a hummingbird flew through the honeysuckle on my deck. Signs of sorrow and hope to a person who constantly looks for signs.
Once when I was a child spending the night with my grandmother, I was very homesick. I started crying, and didn't want her to see me. She came into the room and asked me what was the matter. I remembered hearing that people cried sometimes when they were happy, so I blurted out, "Oh Granny, I'm just so happy to be here!"
That story has become part of my legend, but it also expresses in a way how I feel today. Homesick for the days when we hadn't experienced September 11, 2001, but at the same time happy that I have my family and friends and the belief that on a small scale--person to person--we're doing it right.