Let it Begin With Me.
Christmas is now and forever my favorite holiday. Maybe more than the day itself, I love the anticipation, the buildup, the bustling preparations during this special time of year. But this year something is different. My tree is lit and my stocking is hung, but there is a heaviness in the air. Sadness and grief, hurt and rage, confusion and anguish- these are the emotions of the holiday season in America right now. It’s hard to know what to say about what’s happening in this country as a result of the two grand juries failing to indict in the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. This is not a political blog, and I am far from educated enough on the subjects of police procedure and judicial proceedings to give sound advice on what should be done to fix this mess.
But I know this: things happened here. Lives were lost. Human beings, once warm and vibrant, now lie cold, leaving grieving families and angry communities behind. And it baffles me, it crumbles me, the endless debating and the rationalizations. Even if these officers had been brought to trial, that wouldn’t bring these lives back. These people are not representative ideas or symbols of racial discord in this country- they are people, with names, with mothers, with children, with friends. And now they are gone.
I truly believe it must be easier to engage in discourse, to fight and debate with one another, than to confront that reality. They. Are. Gone.
I don’t think making laws signals the end of all our problems or the cure for all our suffering, although I am certainly in favor of new laws that help prevent this kind of tragedy. But the problems go deeper than that. They’re systemic, and they’re also deeply personal. When you have a belief about the world, you will find evidence to reinforce that belief everywhere, regardless of whether you ever admit that belief to yourself or not.
Beneath anger, beneath hatred, beneath racism, beneath sexism, beneath judging someone because they are fat or stupid or ugly, beneath all of it lies one thing only: fear. Our fear is individual to each one of us, and that means each one of us has incredible power to change it. I am fully in control of changing one person’s mind: my own. I can work to eradicate my own fear, or at least to acknowledge and claim it as mine, rather than running from it, looking for someone to blame. If there is one idea I find comforting right now, that’s it.
Stereotypes, cultural mindsets, biases, and prejudices only exist because we hold them in our minds. Without minds to believe in them, they vanish. To root out our long-held beliefs, to pry open our hearts and cut out the fear, this is our task. It is daunting, but not impossible. Please, please, please. Let there be Peace on Earth.