on anger, and hope, in charleston
Originally written: June 19th, 2015
Over the last two days I’ve been searching for words, any words, that might somehow connect with how I’m feeling since the news broke in South Carolina. I’ve been looking for words that I can string together to somehow explain how the air just feels different. Worse, somehow.
I keep coming back to this one single word. A word that I know helps nothing, but in this moment, this is the only word I have:
I have anger. Maybe that’s not the right thing to say, I know it doesn’t help anything, but today I’m angry. And maybe you’re angry too. Maybe today, just for a moment, we can say we’re angry. So we can start to move on.
I’m angry that South Carolina still waves the confederate flag. I’m angry that anyone does, but I’m particularly angry that they continue to do it in the wake of this truly unspeakable, and genuinely impossible to understand, tragedy.
I’m angry that it’s 2015, and people have the audacity to pretend it’s anything beyond 1963.
I’m angry that nothing will ever be done about this on a political level. I’m angry that no one seems to think we have a gun issue. I’m angry that the people who want to make a comment about how the president is doing this, or should be doing that, clearly weren’t paying attention in their high school civics classes. I’m angry that this part about gun control is going to be the only thing that makes people comment on Facebook… and I’m angry that I’m going to delete all of those comments, because nothing of significance, in the history of the world, has ever been solved or made better by bitter fighting on Facebook.
I’m angry that Fox News calls this an attack on faith. I’m angry they can’t see how much they’re hurting this country with a simple lower third graphic.
I’m angry that people aren’t calling him a terrorist. He’s a terrorist. Nothing more, nothing less. His whiteness should not shield him from that label. He brought terror to the people in the church. To the community. To the people in this country with our eyes open, even though we sure as hell might feel better if we could just keep our eyes shut. Just for a moment.
But closing our eyes solves nothing. Just as my anger solves nothing. It only spins me around until I can’t see anything other than how this world might just be falling apart, and it might just be too late to stop it.
My anger makes me angry. It accomplishes nothing else.
So, even though the list of things I’m angry about today certainly don’t stop there, I know that if I don’t stop being angry right now, I’ll only make things worse – even if that seems impossible.
I want to feel better. I want to remember that there are 319 million people in this country, and most of them are here to make a difference.
I have to keep telling myself, reminding myself, that there is still love in this world. That fewer people can understand this terrorist, whose name I don’t care to remember, and refuse to say, than the millions whose hearts and minds are open to the words of those who are simply here to spread love and joy.
I have to remember that we are a nation built on possibility. A nation built on hope and a beautiful idea that people brighter and more qualified than me are working to achieve – the idea of equality, and inclusion. And love. Always love.
I have to hear the words of the victims families, as they forgive this terrorist and his act of terror. I have to let their words into my heart. I have to know that there are people who forgive and won’t let this senseless act of terror and violence burrow into their heart, and fester in their minds. I have to hear stories of their amazing spirits, to be reminded that love breeds love in higher and stronger quantities than hate could ever reach.
I have to remember that there will be church on Sunday at Emanuel AME Episcopal Church on Sunday. Just as there was in 1818, when 140 church members were arrested, and 8 leaders were sentenced to lashes and fines, for simply worshiping in daylight hours, while also being black. There will be church, just as there was in 1969, when 900 demonstrators were arrested for demonstrating in support of striking hospital workers, while also being black.
There will be church, and there will be hope, and there will be love. Otherwise, what’s the point of anything we’re doing here?
I have anger. I am dizzy with anger.
I have hope. The hope feels better.