Dealing With The Fear

There are stories that are true, in which each individual’s tale is unique and tragic, and the worst of the tragedy is that we have heard it before, and we cannot allow ourselves to feel it too deeply. We build a shell around it like an oyster dealing with a painful particle of grit, coating with smooth pearl layers in order to cope. This is how we walk and talk and function, day in, day out, immune to others’ pain and loss. If it were to touch us it would cripple us or make saints of us; but, for the most part, it does not touch us. We cannot allow it to.

Neil Gaiman, American Gods

 

I awoke this morning to a nightmare that I thought was nigh impossible and really doesn’t (or, so far, doesn’t seem to) have any effect on me. Yet, I feel compelled to address it because I’m concerned that this same nightmare might become a reality in my own part of the world. But, it is my belief that the so called “Brexit” is the succumbing of yet another country to the notion of “other” being incompatible with “us.” I can only imagine what this must feel like to immigrants in Great Britain, to expats living in the European Union, to people who felt like this was not in the realm of possibilities.

Our own president, Franklin Roosevelt, once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This is what fear looks like and we should very much fear it, because it is tearing apart the social fabric of global unity. Regardless of what your views on religion, or politics, or economics are, the notions of borders and “us and them” are divisive and unnecessary. A particular presumptive nominee in the United States continues to stoke the fires of this racist bigotry and is now exalting the results of the EU referendum as a pattern that the USA should follow in some fashion as it careens toward the November election.

Humanity is a collective organism. We all exist on the same plane and need to work together to ensure our own survival. Unfortunately, nothing that I’ve seen of late leads me to believe that we’re aware of that. We seem to be oblivious to each other and maybe we are doing that in order to function on a daily basis. It is entirely plausible that a crippling awareness of humanity on a global scale would be our undoing. However, I feel like we need to face that fear; stare it down back into its deep, dark cavern. Humans need to cross imaginary borders, both geopolitical ones and emotional ones, in order to create a world where fear has no sway. If you are with me on this, I want to recruit you to join with me in creating a world without fear. If you are against me on this, I’m not going to stop preaching about the need to band together as one, so at least keep listening even if you disagree. It’s for the good of humanity, it really is.

Silent No More

I have been silent. I have been silent in the face of the latest shooting in Orlando simply because I don’t know what to say. I have been silent because I’m not sure what more I can say other than this has to stop. And, I’ve said that before. I’ve argued with friends and enemies about the value of guns in our society. I’ve discussed with loved ones and strangers the vagaries of Constitutional rights. I’ve lost friends because of my belief that humanity as a whole outweighs being a Christian or Muslim or brown or white, or being a member of the LGBTQIAPK community, or a gun owner, or a social justice warrior, or an environmentalist, or someone who is mentally ill.

But, I will be silent no more.

We are all humans on this planet. Regardless of what label you put on yourself or others, you are a member of humanity which entitles you to treat every other member of that 7 billion plus population with respect, dignity, and love. You, whoever you are, do not get to judge what is right or wrong as though you have some moral ascendancy above anyone else. I’m not better than anyone who reads this, or has it read to them, or has it translated for them. And they are not better than me. We all exist on this planet for a short time and we owe it to one another, despite the labels, to be kind and generous to every member of our shared humanity.

My silence carried with it an implicit approval that everything is fine and everything is not fine. There are a great many wrongs in the world, in this country, in this state, but one thing I can no longer be silent about is the use of guns as weapons of mass destruction. This is what they are. Yes, I have friends who are responsible gun owners who will debate this with me to the end of time. But, guns are designed, manufactured, and sold to destroy things. They have no other purpose. Those things can be animals, targets, or as has been the case of late, people, but guns do not help humans. They are used to intimidate, frighten, attack, and destroy any number of things on this planet, but one thing they do not do is enable humans to engage with each other in a peaceful manner.

I have heard the arguments. They are no longer valid in the face of willful destruction of humanity. You’re welcome to challenge that notion if you feel so inclined. I’m not above changing my opinion in the face of overwhelming evidence, but I assure you that this is going to be a tough row to hoe. I will no longer stand idly by and allow guns to become a normative value in human society. They do not have a place in my home and they should not have a place in this world.

I will be silent no more.