Sadness

19 06 2015

I’m usually very deliberate and methodical about my blogs! I spend a great deal of time carefully considering what’s on my heart, and making sure that my words are carefully thought through. Accurate information, appropriately placed passion, and the right spirit, are all important factors in what I have to say and when I say it.

But this morning I’m sad — so sad that I want to . . . I need to . . . write! That’s what I do when I’m sad; and frankly, it’s one of the only things I do well when I’m sad. And I’m writing here, without all the considerations that are normally part of my writing, in the hopes that the Spirit might have something to say . . . both to me, and to you.

Now I’ve been sad before. I remember gathering on the campus of The College of William and Mary the evening after Treyvon Martin was killed, for a vigil that both honored his life, while at the same time challenging a ‘stand your ground’ law that appeared to have been unjustly used to excuse the murder. But then, in the days that followed, I heard countless people claim that while Treyvon did happen to be Black, his death was not about race. It wasn’t about a teenager in a hoodie, taking a short cut home from a convenient store where he purchased a bag of Skittles, being in a neighborhood full of people who didn’t look like him, where he was assumed to be a thug looking for trouble. Rather, it was about someone looking out for his community, protecting his home and the neighborhood he cared about, from a smart-mouthed punk who needed to be put in his place . . . oh, and that ‘punk’ just happened to be Black.

I was also sad last year when Michael Brown was shot on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. Many others were sad this time around too . . . that is until we all learned that he was a trouble-maker. The NYTimes let us all know that Michael was ‘no angel’, and he was only shot after shop-lifting from a local small business, and pushing the store’s clerk on his way out. Besides, he also liked to smoke a little pot! So once again, the story was rewritten and retold. Because after all, if you’re going to reach into a police car and try to take a cop’s gun, what do you think is going to happen? Michael didn’t just steal a few cigars. He was a big, intimidating 18 year old; and while it’s sad that he was shot six times, twice in the head . . . his death had nothing to do with his race.

Perhaps like you, I was sad a couple of months ago as I sat in horror and watched the streets of Baltimore erupt in violence over the tragic death of Freddie Gray. He was arrested, not for being a Black man who dared to look into the eyes of a white police officer, but because he had an illegal switch-blade. And when he tried to run away from the cops, force was only used to subdue him so he could be cuffed and put into the police van. It was completely justifiable, and his accidental death which resulted was just that . . . accidental. His being Black was simply not an issue.

So I’ve been sad before; but that sadness went away, and relatively quickly. This morning . . . this time around, my sadness makes me want to weep. It is so deep and so painful that it makes me wonder if it will ever going to go away. It makes we want to weep . . . and to scream . . . and to get up from my desk and go do something. Today’s sadness over the shootings at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina is simply too much. I need someone to come along and put my mind at ease. I need someone to come and explain what happened, someone to . . . rewrite . . . to . . . retell, the story.

Surely this is not about race! Not again! I mean why would a young white man, from a state where the confederate flag flies proudly over the state capital every day, want to kill a bunch of Black people? After all, that flag is all about Southern pride, acknowledging a time in American history when people were not so much in favor of slavery, but simply supporters of states’ rights! Surely this could not be a race thing . . . not in South Carolina! I don’t care what the guy said as he was shooting people, he must be mentally ill! That’s why this happened – mental illness. And how did he get a gun in the first place. If this doesn’t convince us that we need stricter gun laws, nothing will.

Actually, if you really think about it, the murders took place in a Christian Church. So maybe this wasn’t really an attack on Black people at all. Maybe this was an attack on Christianity! After all, this country has been out to get Christians for years; beginning in 1962 when the government took prayer out of our schools. And now this country has all these damn Muslims moving in . . . is it any wonder things are such a mess. Store clerks are not even allowed to wish people a Merry Christmas anymore. All they can say is “Happy Holidays!”

Speaking of Christmas — did you know it’s only six months away? Now there’s a story I love telling . . . in fact it’s one of the few stories I like to tell again, and again, again. And when I do . . . well, it just makes me feel better. It takes away my sadness.

Good stories do that, don’t they? They take away our sadness . . . whether they’re true . . . or not!


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3 responses

20 06 2015
Lance

“And so it goes with God”-Pi

21 06 2015
Marilyn Friedman Shealey

As a Jewish woman I understand how personal it feels when a hate crime happens in a place where we gather in spiritual worship and peace. And surely we would all feel just as horrified if this crime had happened to a gathering of peaceful, community-supporting Muslims, coming together to share and learn the tenets of their faith. We don’t know how Dylann Roof felt about Christianity or what his thoughts were as he sat for an hour among those he then killed. But we do know that he had a history of very racially charged comments, and his stated goal was to fight against black peoples’ “infiltration” of white society. I think we do our country a disservice if we fail to recognize that despite years of growth in racial relations, a nasty culture remains among some denying people of all races (and religious beliefs) the opportunity to live in peace and safety while working to better their communities. History shows us the adherents most religions have suffered from the attacks of others, but in this country racial discrimination and persecution remains strong; we can’t stop our efforts to address it.

28 06 2015
Bob Melone

Thanks for your thoughtful response Marilyn. Hate abounds today, and sadly, too much of it is rooted in distorted religious values. Hope all is well with you and your family.

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