Numb and Number

This was the week that was: this week we had school shooting number 22 of 2018. This is week 20 of the year. Let that sink in for a minute. We have also had incidents where police roughed up an innocent black person, though thankfully haven’t killed anybody this week. I don’t know how many people of color that makes for the year. Another black man was exonerated and released for jail after serving a sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. White people have again called police when they see black folk doing innocuous things and businesses have accused innocent people of color of stealing. The president’s lies while in office have climbed into the 3100’s. A climate change denying politician has ignorantly claimed that the sea level is rising because rocks keep falling into the ocean. Congress hasn’t passed laws protecting “Dreamers” from deportation. The immigration police keep arresting people who have committed no crime except being here illegally despite Trump’s promise that they wouldn’t. The Israeli army killed over a hundred Palestinian demonstrators and wounded over 2,000. As Marvin Gaye sang “makes you want to holler and throw up both your hands.”

Bishop Michael Curry speaking at the royal wedding called for love and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau called for acceptance of others in a college commencement speech. We are so far from either that their words seem laughable. Our politicians both Democrats and Republicans, are bought and paid for by corporations and the wealthy. They not only do not represent the people who elected them, they have become so partisan that even compromise on small issues seems impossible. Compromise on large questions seems out of the question. Progressive candidates have made small progress at the state level, but there are no signs that they will do so at the national level come November. Some polls indicate that Democrats have squandered whatever lead they had for the 2018 election.

What can we do about it? The first thing is not to give into despair and accept that this is normal or inevitable. Outrage overload, compassion overload, or whatever you want to call it is the first thing we must avoid. We cannot become numb to this onslaught. The second thing is that each one of us has to do something. When you are trying to get all the garbage off the beach it doesn’t matter where you start, only that you start. Different people can do different things, we all have different talents, personalities, and opportunities. It means not being silent anymore. It can be as simple as voting or talking to others about voting. It can simply be talking to your neighbors about the issues, donating to and working for political candidates, or writing blogs like this one. The more active among us can help organize groups to protest, write letters to Congress (although I don’t have high hopes that they will be effective,) or help get people to the polls to vote when the time comes.

There are some hopeful signs here and there. Gerrymandering is at least being challenged in a few courts. Progressive gains at the local and state levels may eventually work there way up to the national level although  much work needs to be done before that happens. Change will not be quick or immediate. We will have to endure more weeks like last week and things may get worse before they get better. We may have to take many baby steps and learn how to walk before we run. We may have to look in the mirror and acknowledge unpleasantness about our own behavior. We will have to face inconvenient and uncomfortable truths about ourselves, our friends and loved ones. We might have to challenge long and closely held “truisms” about our country and society. Remaining patient while we slowly move forward is not easy, but we must be relentless.

I have lived long and fought many fights, winning some and losing some. Whenever I feel myself getting too weary to continue, I see my little granddaughter and worry about what kind of world she will grow up in. If I didn’t do what I could to shape that one into a better one even if it is not the beloved community Dr. King, Bishop Curry , former president Obama, or even Justin Trudeau can envision, I would feel I let her down. I’ll be damned if I’m going to let her down.

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