- By Eileen Vandergrift
- 2 Comments
I have been, like so many, washed over by the news of shocking and violent loss (from all over our country) these past few days. Of course, the circumstances vary, our grasp of what happened in each situation is still foggy and conflicting and there’s no question that each is fueled by deep divides in political sentiments that loom large. All that said, I want to attend to what is common to each confused and terrifying incident, by reminding us that each person lost was an individual. Each person had a name, a history, people who loved them and lives that mattered. Keeping loss anonymous, politically fueled, or presenting it in a ‘for and against causes’ way, helps us miss our common vulnerability. It keeps us imagining that in an “us and them” way of framing things, we can perhaps remain observers, relatively safe, on the sidelines. While each circumstance is a very specific story, with a long and meaningful series of differentiations to be made, I wonder why we, so often, seem just incapable of grasping the sheer horror of these incidents? Beyond the finger pointing that these deaths result in, how can we take up the grief that they really should engender? I want to call you back to the last post I made ( following the Orlando shootings in June) and highlight a central reflection that the poet made.”…Before you know the tender gravity of kindness, you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road. You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone who journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him alive.” I think that when we genuinely appreciate, how ‘this too could be us’, we are challenged to surrender our defensiveness. We might come to own the fact that, “he” ( the Indian, the police officer, the CD mover, the School Cook, the people dancing in a nightclub in Orlando) ARE us. We resist knowing this, likely, because it is terrifying .
Wonder about…Stanley Almodovar, Amanda Alvear, Oscar Aracena, Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, Angel Candelario-Padro, Darryl Roman Burt, Cory James Connell, Paul Terrell Henry, Frank Hernandez, Javier Jorge-Reyes, Jason Josaphat, Kimberly Morris, Edward Sotomayor, Shane Evan Tomlinson, Luis Vielma, Jimmy Bejesus Velazquez, Alton Sterling, Philander Castile, Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Thomas Kirk…and the many, many unnamed others who, “…journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him alive…”, it is what we are all doing..