Today is not one for washing over the bad, or pressing forward blindly with the hopes it will all go away. It won't go away. It isn't my country, but I see how the back-and-forth racism and anti-police sentiment is fuelled on both sides by valid arguments that need to be heard, understood and then changed. Changed. I feel a little like it isn't my country, so what can I do? How can I help? Elie Wiesel had something to say about that. "When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant."
My contribution is to be light. I know that sounds flighty. When things get tough in my house, in my relationships, in times of bigger conflicts, in my world, I want to be the light. So my girls and those around me can feel a little more safe, a little more hopeful, a little more encouraged.
Our television and radio are turned off, not because we shut ourselves in from the realities of the racial divide and killings in the U.S., but because we are choosing to bake cookies, call friends, go for a swim with neighbours, colour pictures and foster the light. It is our best defence and our strongest weapon, that light and the love it creates. I have quoted this line of Mary Oliver's before, but I find it poignant and helpful today. "That light is an invitation to happiness, and that happiness, when it's done right, is a kind of holiness."
It's not a concrete solution. I am short on those, in this instance. I feel fear and worry creep in, uninvited, but manifested nonetheless. My answer to those feelings is to give them a place to exist and rest, respectfully, but I put my foot down when it comes to ambivalence leading to apathy. The answer to my own fear and worry is not to ignore or run. It is to be better, be light, act lovingly. This world is not, as Elie Wiesel said, limited to the experiences within and outside of borders. It's our world.
I don't want mamas with black children to fear for those precious lives when they send them out into the world. I don't want wives like myself to feel fear when they send their police officer spouses out into the world, either. I don't want one group of people in this world to feel they are superior to another group, or fear when they pull a car over that the black driver will be violent so they go ahead and shoot first. I live in a social construct that gives white privilege, and that is not justified or fair. When we know better, we do better.
So, for me, doing better starts in me. In my own propensity to act out violently, I instead stop and react calmly. When I see a kid being picked on and I say something to stop it (including within my family). In my own choice to see someone as a fellow child of God, and not as their clothes or colour or circumstances. It is in reacting to sad, terrible news like that on today's networks with a choice to be a light, and foster intolerance for ignorance or hatred. Love is stronger.