Thursday, June 16, 2016

I wonder.

There have been a rash of horrific things in the news over the last few weeks. Sickening sentences for horrific crimes. Mass murder. The insensible loss of life of a small child. None of these things make an iota of sense to me. I have experienced a wide range of emotions simply trying to take in all of this information. I will not attempt to explain why any of these things happen. The world is imbalanced. We all have our ideas of how to fix the imbalance. But historians and authors tell us the world has never been any other way. The tragedies of today are merely echoes of those of yesterday, and last year, and 1,000 years ago.

But as I age, grow, and hopefully learn, I am more prone to wonder. While I feel overwhelmed trying to process 49 people killed by one man in one evening, that is as it should be. That should not be logically digestible information. I wonder why there is so much here and now that is not as it should be. I'm not looking for a solution, gun control, stricter laws for sentencing, dead alligators and gorillas. Ultimately, those are physical solutions that are not full proof and will do nothing in the face of a spiritual problem. We are all bankrupt at some level. History has shown us, mass murders occurred long before machine guns. My own family's history shows us you don't need a vicious animal to senselessly kill a small child, a car and negligent driver will do just fine. Life does not make sense. Evil exists on this planet. Justice and fairness are things we attempt to strive for but that humanity has never once and will never attain. 

Does that make all of this meaningless? Should we simply surrender to the madness? Arm ourselves to the teeth and lock our children inside? Is that the solution? 

Or will we give ourselves enough time to pause? We will process our grief, our profound disappointment at the world we inhabit? Will we allow ourselves to admit that maybe we don't really know the solution? Is it simply okay to be horrified and really sorry for those affected by these tragedies?

What do we get out of racing for a solution? What do we get out of the rhetoric? What does the blame game that imperfect parents suffer under profit us? Does it help me to have them hear my criticism and have to live with those words for the rest of their lives while grieving the loss of their child?

What we get is an excuse to stop feeling. We no longer have to feel impotent in the face of tragedy. We don't have to worry for the safety of our own loved ones. We don't have to feel culpable in the face of a broken (in)justice system. The rhetoric, the relentless digestion of articles allows us to fully engage our brains without touching the heart level discomfort. 

I wonder, if there is a middle way? Perhaps it's okay to sit in the wake of all of this horror and just be. Be scared. Be silent. Be angry. Be concerned. Be confused. Be sympathetic. Can we allow ourselves that luxury? Because by not allowing it we only ever are able to listen with our heads. And from what I have seen our heads aren't going to get us out of any of this. We have to stop being so consumed by the endless flood of information. It sickens us. It limits our own creative thinking. It absolutely shuts down our ability be, to process, to stop. How do we teach our children to live in a world, when all we are modeling is the digestion of material?

Maybe if there's anything constructive we can do in this moment it is to feel, to be with one another. No solutions, no politics or blame. Just be there, knowing that as humans, most of us are really sorry that any of this happened. Maybe what we need most is one another. Especially when the temptation is to sit in our respective "camps" divisively arguing over "solutions." I have nothing profound to say to the families of the victims in Orlando except, I am so so sorry. I can not condemn imperfect parents, I am one. I would much rather cry with/for them. And when I think over the abhorrent (in)justice system with its latest debauchery, all I can think about is my culpability as a citizen in this country. I feel sorrow, regret and impotency. But I can be here. I can feel the things and not run from them. I hope some of you can do the same. The invitation to a full life is never through our head, it always begins in our heart. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Being angry about Brock Turner's verdict is fine, but what are you going to do about it?

I don't know about you but I'm about sick of seeing Brock Turner's face on my phone. I'm sick of the feeling I get in my stomach when I see him. When I think about his "bright future." Or his abhorrent father's endorsement of his son. I'm sick of thinking about rape being called 20 minutes of action. It's not doing anything for me but getting me angrier.  Maybe it's making me disproportionately angry.

This week I got to watch the sentencing of a man who sexually assaulted and raped me for almost 10 years. I never had the courage to press charges but another one of his victims did. And as I sat in that courtroom I had a bunch of emotions, but not one of them was vindication. Because his final sentence after all the things he had done to that woman is 2 months time already served and 5 years probation. He sexually assaulted her, broke into her house, assaulted her, and raped her, two separate times. But the best our justice system could do with the tools they had at their disposal was 2 months time already served and 5 years probation. He's not even on the sexual offender's registry, although his long list of victims will tell you that's exactly where he belongs. He still has partial custody of our children, and there's nothing the justice system will do about that. And we wonder why victims don't come forward. Brock Turner is not an isolated incident.

So I'm sick of being angry.  I'm sick of this broken ineffective justice system.  I'm sick of the futility of coming forward and saying you were assaulted or raped only to watch NOTHING HAPPEN. I have lost count of the friends that didn't receive justice when they did that. Maybe just by chance you're sick of the futility of all of this too.  Maybe it's beyond time for YOU, US, ME, OUR COUNTRY to do something about this! Change these laws, change the lawmakers, change the statutes that cover how long we have to come forward after being assaulted, change this "right to face your accuser" crap that terrifies rape victims and re-victimizes them. I, for one, am sick of doing nothing. I'm sick of just being enraged by the injustice of our justice system.  So I'm going to make some phone calls, probably a lot of them. I'm going to write some letters, probably even more of those. I'm going to keep calling and keep writing until those in positions of power do something! And if you think for one moment me doing all of this excuses you from making calls, writing letters and PROTESTING the abhorrence of this system then you're on the side of the rapists. There are no bystanders in this, you're either with the abusers or the on the side of the victims. Your silence does not serve those who are hurting, it only serves the Brock Turners of this world. Make no mistake, I'm sure that's offensive, it's meant to be. But I have no time for complacency anymore.  I'm done, are you?

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