How many times can a heart break?
This is not a rhetorical question.
Why are guns more important than lives?
Again, not a rhetorical question, a cry from tears cracking a heart.
Why is there a gun show in Miami this weekend?
Again, not a rhetorical question, a plea for a different future.
Why are the lives of children less important than gun sales?
Again, not a rhetorical question, a wonder that is revulsion.
Why do men need to pretend they’re superheroes with assault rifles?
Again, not a rhetorical question, an acknowledgement that their desires create massacre-makers, not saviors.
How is it that the gut of too many lawmakers is shriveled with dollars?
Again, not a rhetorical question, a demand for action, change.
How can a parent mourn a child, a child lose a childhood friend, a custodian clean up so much spilled blood, a parent comfort a grieving child, a teacher experience empty seats, a sibling grasp loss, a grandparent bury a grandchild, a country keep letting it happen?!
There are no rhetorical questions here, only a demand for swords into ploughshares, assault weapons into rain barrels, bird feeders, planters—let there be growth, not death.
We are angered beyond enough.
We are drained so deep to drive demands.
With so much abhorrent information coming out about this administration and its servants in congress, I constantly vacillate between disgust and utter disgust. There is no space for nuance. That horror comes, too, from a seeming echo chamber of “strong” men around the globe. Suddenly the world seems so small, constricted, and blatantly focused on power and ever more wealth for the arrogant who demand control of we, the masses.
I fear the rabid infestation of antisemitism, of concocting scapegoats, of the vile up of us and down of them, of the dangerous inability to see each person as deserving of respect that is racism, of the profoundly offensive misperception that men are better than women because they are men. There is only to scream in horror over and over and over again. How is it that these people keep slithering back?
How can one not be stressed?
There is to mobilize in whatever way suits you because it is not okay that we finally understand history, finally understand—even with media, mass media, social media—how the rulers grab power, attain power, hold onto power; finally understand the ad nauseum cycle of the rich and powerful trodding down the rest of us, we of the small voices.
This has been seen before; otherwise, where would these voices have come from?
- Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. Churchill
- Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead
- A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water. Eleanor Roosevelt
But as I sit here on a rainy day after brunch with friends, I can’t help but wonder if these men are experiencing a non-stop grinding in their heads, the non-stop voices of critique that penetrate, a non-stop inner voice that is never satisfied because the turmoil generated by self-hate cannot be appeased. Why do we need to continually suffer because of the dark inner worlds that far too many men live and fester within, and try to smother through silencing our outer voices of discord?
Before my divorce, and long before my ex-husband tumbled all the way down, people would say that I am strong and he is weak, that his need to control me, insult me, belittle me, indicated how small he feared he was. I, who trembled to hear his accusations, his grating voice hollowed of compassion, never believed them. The visceral dynamic of an abuser and the abused, is tough to alter. Eventually, though, I was able to understand how that internal plague could function in others.
There was never any satisfying him. No gift, no matter how well thought out, was good enough. No act of kindness was ever satisfactory. Groveling from the heart might have worked, but I could never muster such a diminishment of self to serve him sufficiently. There was no gratitude for anything.
On the drive home from brunch, thinking about how calm I was after being with, talking to, relaxing with three good friends, I felt grateful. It is not hard to be grateful. To accept that who you are is enhanced through your connections. To acknowledge (even the deepest introvert among us) that strength and determination and confidence flow from a stream/well within that is fed through a stream/well outside of the self.
Leaving my marriage was a giant marker that I would no longer put up with a bully; that I would no longer scream in anger and hurt because of someone else’s desperate ego.
My lot is with those who make me feel grateful to be living my life, who make me proud of myself simply because I’m trying to be as good as I can be.
Now that I see that my past and present have merged to make me realize that neither can be wasted if I want to maintain a shred of dignity.
My mother, who lives about a half-hour north of Parkland, Florida, learned about the shooting when I finally reached her on Wednesday night.
“Did you hear the news?” I asked, needing to talk to someone.
“No, I was at the movies,” she asked, immediate anxious worry in the voice of this woman whose daughter lived in Israel for many years.
“Don’t you listen to the radio in the car?” I asked, anxious that I need to tell her about a school shooting, about 17 dead, about so many teens dead, about loss so very close, about losses that I assumed would somehow connect back to her.
“We were talking.”
She went to services at her temple on Friday night. She said they it was devastatingly moving. Teens spoke who lost camp friends in the shooting. An adult spoke who lost a childhood friend. And the rabbi spoke up, against guns, apologizing for not having voices his stance sooner.
Time for tears is the same as the time to speak up. Let’s hope more religious leaders finally find the moral strength to speak up for life, and not the capacity to kill. There are those who wonder why more people don’t connect to religious institutions: if you silence your voice, no one will follow.
We need to find and use our own voices. Perhaps they were schooled in a tradition, but if that tradition no longer serves us, then we need to go beyond it. Go beyond the confines of what was, and learn to use it to twist into a new future.