With the recent shooting at Pulse the gay club in Orlando a friend shared this poem:
what they did yesterday afternoon by warsan shire
they set my aunts house on fire
i cried the way women on tv do
folding at the middle
like a five pound note.
i called the boy who use to love me
tried to ‘okay’ my voice
i said hello
he said warsan, what’s wrong, what’s happened?
i’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like;
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water.
later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
where does it hurt?
And it grabbed my heart. Sometimes I feel so numb to the pain of the world. Because the horrible truth is: it is everywhere. Someone gets shot in America pretty much every single day whether it’s being broadcast on the news or not. Somewhere in the world kids are going without meals. Babies are being born into deadly situations. Someone is getting raped. Children are forced into war and prostitution. Someone is living through another day in an abusive marriage. Someone decides that suicide is their only option. Heartbreaking horrible sh*t happens every single day.
And lately I don’t even cry about it because I’m just so weary. Weary that we I live in a country where gun control is a constant conversation and yet nothing really changes. Weary that we would prefer to stereotype and create more fear rather than banding together in actions of love. Weary that in a few days time I’m going to hear about another senseless tragedy that we will be no closer to ending.
Our generation grew up with the promise that we could be anything we wanted to be regardless of gender, race, or whatever especially as Americans. The older I get the more I realize that it’s not really true. For many people of color it’s enough that they grew up and got through their childhoods. That sure a woman can run for president, but people will assume if you vote for her, it’s because she’s a woman, that the conversation around her will be very different from the men, and you better have iron skin because every ugly word they can think of will be tossed at you. And if you’re queer forget it.
Sometimes I am simply grateful that I am alive and educated, but sometimes I feel this heavy burden. I feel this burden to share my voice because I am multi-racial and female. To be a role model for all the young black and mixed girls who don’t know what they could possibly be. To make friends with all the weirdos because that’s how I’ve felt for a long time and remind them they’re not alone and we really all can get along. To be an out there Christian, because while I do it so imperfectly; damn it I want to love the world so hard and if that’s all they ever know than I think that’s good. If within my imperfection they can see Jesus and his great love well I hope they can see that Christianity and being in relationship with Jesus isn’t this lofty thing, it’s something any of us can do.
Most days I wonder though if what I’m doing is enough. I donate blood periodically. I’m attracted to work that puts me in a mentorship position with children and teenagers. I love and celebrate my loved ones fiercely. I try to make friends with people of all kinds (at least when I feel capable of fostering friendship). I love to learn and dialogue from others (name callers need not engage). I recycle. I donate my time and money to good causes. I listen and listen well. I do my best to read and write things that matter.
Within the Girl Scout Law is the promise to “make the world a better place”, and that has always struck me as such a simple yet lofty goal. And at the end of the day I know I can’t change the world by myself, but sometimes I really wonder am I fully doing my part to make the world a better place? And I don’t know.
And I’m not even sure I really can.
Yet I have hope. I have hope that God is in the midst of the world grieving and loving alongside us. I have hope that good always prevails. I have hope that we can learn from our mistakes. I have hope that friendship can change hearts, minds, and ultimately the world. I have hope that weapons will be turned into plowshares (Isaiah 2:4). I have hope that we will drop the politics and remember that ultimately laws are always always about people.
So today I am going to better the world in my own small way, through prayer through love, through forgiveness, through celebration, through donating money, time, blood, sweat, and tears. And I have hope that for now that is enough.
What is your response to tragedy and the hard things of life? Are there ways you are responding with action? Ways you are supporting loved ones? Ways you are taking care of yourself? I would love to hear your thoughts!