A quiet Sunday morning, before dawn, is a strange time to be thinking about serious topics. I should be savoring my coffee and the sounds of the dogs gently snoring on the sofa, but instead I am sitting in the blue glow of the laptop wondering how to make sense of the senseless. I have no answers, of course, no wise or thoughtful observations to help give shape to a reasonable response to the horror that unfolds before us daily, it seems. There are no answers, I think, no rational explanations to give comfort, no obvious actions to help move the collective “us” forward. There are only more questions, more disbelief and shock and grief at what we are becoming, what we have already become.
A friend sent me a message even earlier this morning, sharing that she felt depleted, wondering if she has the strength to continue to bear witness to events that tear at the fabric of our understanding of who we are, what we stand for. This, I could relate to. It’s exhausting, this bearing witness. It eats away at our belief in the basic goodness of people, erodes our confidence that this current state of things is something that can be endured, that we, collectively, can come out of this as anything but fractured, that the pieces are being stretched so far that they may never fit together again. This feeling is not sustainable without hope, and hope is fleeting. How can we hope to mend this when we seem to be building walls ever higher, longer, and thicker, the better to keep us apart and factionalized? It is a depressing state of affairs, this ugly break up.
I also understand those who simply refuse to be pulled into this, who will not be focused on the shit show of current events. At an individual level, it is logical to believe that we cannot make a difference, that the players have no regard for what we think or do, and frankly that is probably accurate. I have no disdain for those who choose to not engage; we all have our own defense mechanisms. Life does go on, it is true, and so must we all. Children need to be raised, job expectations need to be met, grass needs to be mowed. And so it goes.
But. If it was announced that a great wildfire was approaching, what would we do? Doing nothing would not be an option – well, at least not an option if one wants to survive. Inaction would lead to certain death, regardless if the grass needed mowing. The vast majority of people would choose action of some sort, some attempt at dealing with the risk of the end. There would be urgency and determination, even in the face of overwhelming odds.
At the risk of being overly dramatic, I feel like what we are experiencing is a national wildfire – and international, as well, when one includes the North Korea pissing contest with nuclear weapons. The flames crawled through the streets of Charlottesville yesterday. Where will they show up next? Where will the sparks fall and ignite? When will the flames reach you?
That’s the thing about wildfires; they jump. All it takes is a spark and the right conditions, and they show up miles away from where they were yesterday. And I believe the right conditions exist, now, all over this country. We are a tinderbox, waiting for a spark. No neighborhood is immune. No rain is forecast.
So where does that leave us? I have no answer. There are no easy solutions, no logical next steps. I only know that I have to persist.
Although I would prefer to be focused on other things, would rather be investing all of my energy in gardens or animals or making dinner or, hell, even doing the laundry, I must save some energy to continue to fight this fire.
I must continue to say:
This is not normal.
This is not acceptable.
This does not represent me.
I may be depleted and disheartened. I may be saddened and worn down. But I must persist. I must fight this fire even with mere measuring cups of water thrown on the roof. From wherever I am, with whatever I have, for as long as necessary, I must throw those cups of water if I hope to save my home.