Saturday, December 15, 2012

to love is to move

Is grief enough?

...a question I have been asking myself. I already know the answer: of course it isn't. In the wake of yet another widely publicized tragedy, we are all grasping at strings when we try to think of the answer. Lucky for us, our grief is based on shock and disbelief, and not on the loss of our own children.

Disjointed as these thoughts may be, here goes.
Hurricane Sandy was 2 months ago. The Aurora shooting was 5 months ago. 49 kindergarteners in India were brutally killed by a train less than a 30 days ago. The earthquake in Haiti was 2 years ago. The earthquake in Japan was a year and a half ago. The fire at Tazreen garment factory in Dhaka was only 3 weeks ago. Amanda Todd killed herself only 2 months and three days ago.

I suppose I bring these up as a form of confession. I grieved, but my grief was short. There is a trend here, beyond my own life and country (but certainly present in my heart); a trend which focuses on the immediate. A trend which forgets what's past. We get emotional because the images invoke us, and we cry because those people are crying, and the situation is tragic. Our supper tables are filled with conversation and heated debate: about what should be done, or what hasn't been done yet. We make pledges, and call up radio shows to discuss it. We share pictures online and feel that in "liking" we have justified ourselves. Our part is done, we say resolutely. And then the new images show up, and we cry because it's tragic, and we shift and juggle and click like and say nothing with our actions. We fight not for freedom or justice or order, but for the end of our own grief.

Voice: only useful if I use it. My purpose is only as good as my willingness to act. To love is to move. So yes, hug your children, pray vigilantly, and watch the news because you can not help but watch the news. But then, for the sake of those tiny heartbeats we will let slide to the next big news something. Write the government, and write them again. Show up to protests, or start your own campaign. Lobby. Sing louder because that song you wrote needs to be heard for hearts to be changed. Make art that pisses people off. Stir the pot for once; God knows it needs stirring. Talk about the things that no one else wants to talk about; not to anger, but maybe to upset; not to vindicate, but to listen.

More than that: put your hands to something. Do work that will not benefit your own life. Serve in a way that will make you dirtier, in a way you will be unrecognized. Sacrifice something you want for something another person needs. Stop buying so much crap and give your money away instead. Ask your mom the tough questions. Tell your friends why you haven't seen them as much lately; the stigma will survive as long as you believe it is there. Resist gentrification and support rehabilitation instead. Stop ignoring the warning signs. Open both eyes and look closely, even when it hurts. Get strong enough to help the others.

It's been said, it's been said, it's been said. Enough with the saying.

UPDATE: read this. "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother" - this is what so many have been talking about. What a brave woman; we need more like her, more stigma changers.

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