July 15, 2016

Seven Days

Dear Citizens of the World:

The past couple weeks have been a lot. Really.

I’m not here to shake a finger in your face and tsk-tsk you, but geez, folks, I need air. AIR.

Can we please have seven straight days of no mass shootings, no public executions, no drone strikes and no conversations dominated by deafness and shouting?

Please. It’s just. Seven. Days.

We don’t have to hold hands and sing Kum-ba-yah. We don’t have to like the same music or even pray to the same God. Really we don’t.

But can we please see each other as human beings?

If we can do that, just think of the possibilities:

Maybe the hungry might not be so hungry for a week because we’ll feed them; and we'll feed them because we’ll see them as starving human beings instead of The Hungry.

Maybe we’ll rally around the homeless, give them shelter, and help them reclaim their God-given dignity because we'll see them as human beings who are homeless instead of seeing them as The Homeless.

Or, maybe our words and actions will finally spring from a font of understanding that we are all traveling a common journey as human beings, instead of our doings and sayings being rooted in fears, biases and insecurities.


Maybe it could happen.

Then again, maybe it won’t happen. Not even for seven days.

But that won’t stop me from dreaming about it.


je suis epuise’
(translated: I Am Exhausted)

July 11, 2016

Enough Fireworks, Already

From shoulder to floor, he stands a little less than two feet tall. He is small, cuddly and a bit insecure. He is our fur-baby, Charley.

Charley is no fan of fireworks, so Fourth of July weekend was traumatic for him, as it always is. I do what I can to ease the anxiety from periodically checking on him during our backyard cookouts, to letting him use our basement as a bunker, to closing all windows and doors, to just holding him when he naps.

Because I'm THAT person.
The weeks following official fireworks are somewhat easier on the poor little guy, but not completely. Neighborhood kids and adults occasionally let off bottle rockets, firecrackers and fireworks that briefly light up the night sky.

Charley tattles on the pyrotechnic amateurs with a strange, guttural growl and a quick bark. I then repeat the shuttering, closing and holding until peace reigns again.

Lately my fur-baby, however, actually meanders into the very rooms where I've left windows open. It's as if he's waiting for the pops and crackles whose sounds are larger than his tiny body. He gets upset just the same and I lead him away from the noise and back into the quiet.

We repeat the drill over and over. Silly precious little dog.

I mean, WHY? Why go into a room where it is loud, menacing and more than you can handle?

The past week taught me that I can be a lot like Charley.

As much as social media has an outpouring of support for #BlackLivesMatter and the latest victims of public executions, it also harbors counter-sentiments, justifications and outright bigotry.

These sentiments cross my timeline every now and then, and each time I read them, I leave deflated and sometimes disappointed in these thoughts lurking in the minds and hearts of some people within my social media circles.

And I guess those same people are probably disappointed in me too.

Either way, I've decided I'm smarter than my Charley. Until I'm stronger in heart and mind, I'm making a conscious effort to stay out spaces that drain and deplete; and, to live in blissful ignorance of -- well, the blissful, willful ignorance of people.

If you're feeling like I'm feeling, I encourage you to hop over to my friend Alexandra's blog and read her piece Because We Need to do Better. Her piece isn't about hand-wringing, it's about taking steps forward and problem-solving. It's really good: READ IT.

Charley's right about one thing though: sometimes the fireworks are just too much.

July 8, 2016

Simple Gifts

'Tis the gift to be simple,
'tis the gift to be free,
'tis the gift to come down
where we ought to be,
and when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained
to bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
to turn, turn, will be our delight
till by turning, turning we come round right.
-Elder Joseph Brackett

The television is off and tragic reports continue without my attention or eyes.

Twitter is still tweeting assorted fact-checkers, trolls and encouragers alike and continues to do so without me scrolling.

Facebook is buzzing about lives mattering, hashtags, apologies, defending and continues to do so whether I check notifications or not.

Right now, for my sanity and hope, I'll relish in the simple things and pray Elder Joseph Brackett was right.

Simple is the road that leads home

Simple is the color purple.

Simple is a good meal and good conversation.

Simple is blowing bubbles with your dad.

Simple is haircuts at home.

Simple is knowing what we need.

Simple is love...even when waves are crashing.

July 7, 2016

We Used to Send Postcards

I pretend to be a tourist and poke around in one of the mall’s tourist kiosks. The tri-level display turnstile is adorned with them – postcards. Postcards tourists will send back home or save as keepsakes. The scenes vary, but all highlight landmarks and historical markers.

The messages vary, but the common sentiment woven throughout is We’re having fun in and we’re kinda proud of it.

Seems we’ve been sending postcards for darn near an eternity.

Even when scenes and messages were dark.

Men, women and children posed around mangled human beings.

How cold does one’s blood have to had run to purchase these picture postcards, buy postage and mail them to friends and family?

To say We’re having fun and we’re proud of it?

To willingly be captured in these scenes, to willingly be closely associated with the inhumanity and hate mustered to create these scene in the first place.

I’d like to think we are better and more sophisticated than that now, but I’m beginning to believe the only thing better and more sophisticated about us is the technology we use to record inhumanity. Now we capture it by cell phone video, dash cam or body cam.

But the result is the same.

More often than not, we see a human being in the process of dying – right in front of our eyes. Often – too often – it’s a brown human being whose life is expiring during police encounters when they are: selling cigarettes, running, lying dead in the street, sleeping in a park, selling CDs or driving with a broken taillight.

And now, we’re even privy to dying cries and heartbreaking last words:
I can’t breathe
Help me, I need help
Why am I being arrested
Officer, why did you shoot me
I’m just reaching for my ID, sir

Our new postcards even come with rationale for scenes and sounds:
They should’ve complied.
They had a record.
There was more to it than we know.
What about black on black crime
That's only one side of the story.

As a brown person who has brown and white friends and family, and as a human being, the rationales fall flat on my ears and in my heart.

There is no degree of incompliance, no record long enough, no evidence stacked high enough, no story complex enough, or no false equivalency to justify or distract from the killing of a human being.

Right in front of our eyes.

I don’t claim to know what the solutions are, and I don’t know how to help people understand.

I’m just flummoxed, sad and drained…and tired of our postcards.