What is more important than freedom from fear and terror?
When was it last year that I stood on the top of the play structure in the middle of the children's park and felt fear streak through me as I watched my three-year-old and 9-month-old sons, thinking, where will we take cover? The woods are too far. A shooter could pick us off so easily here.
Somewhere in the south mothers march dressed in orange for gun regulations that might lead to something more or less than this agony of sending our children to schools afraid that today will be the day they're shot and killed as they sit in their tiny chairs learning letters, numbers, how to hide in a closet, become soundless.
My husband is doing the dishes, a week before Christmas.
Why should anyone be allowed to have a handgun, I ask.
I think people should have the right to own a gun.
Not an assault rifle, he says.
But handguns are the biggest killers.
Look, I believe in the second amendment.
What do you mean? What about it? What about it do you believe...what about it... in it...what?
The water is swishing and I'm trying not to steam, not to blow a mouthful of rage, a rage I was born with, a rage that only love has ever calmed, only slow breath has ever mitigated.
Somewhere in the east women are marching, yes, women, of course, women, and every one is silent and pretending they don't care--numb--it's December 14th. Three years have passed since twenty children and six teachers were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary school.
Women are marching and men, white men, are standing with assault rifles slung over their shoulders as they pass. Someone is saying, why are they always blaming white men. I'm speaking, telling my class, it's ideology, it's--do you understand? It's not just white men, it's how do I explain this isn't about individuals it's about a dominant world view that excludes most of us. And when I say exclusion I mean violence, that is violently suppressing most human beings.
We get it. They nod. But I can't be sure and I don't understand why I keep saying this over and over. I'm not saying it's you, white man, it's not that. How do I explain?
Why should anyone have a fucking gun? I'm asking my husband and he is still doing the dishes and the children are playing. The one-year-old is riding his horse on wheels back and forth across the kitchen, the three-year-old is stomping dinosaurs under the table, pretending he doesn't feel the lightening between us.
I deserve to be free to live in peace. I deserve to be free of violence and fear. Don't we deserve this. This is not a question.
I want to hate. I want to hide under a rock. I know, I know acutely that hate is a form of the disease, that anything that takes me away from the truth that you and I and you and I and you and you and you are of the same living force--breath of body of earth of evanescence, this impermanence, this one life--anything that separates me from you is a part of the disease.
But still, I don't want to feel the truth of loss, fear, terror.
Then today, in class, a student-- a white boy--speaking. He had a conversation with his grandfather about racism. He has thought about the limits of our freedoms. He is interested. He is thankful that we talked about all the hatred and the rage and the genocide and the endless violence.
Baby's thrown against electric fences, humans buried alive in Sierra Leone by child soldiers, twelve-year-olds, Black men killed in the streets of Baltimore, Ferguson, Minneapolis, Chicago. A wall being built and no Muslims allowed. Women's bodies criminalized. No end to global warming. Women jailed for miscarriages and the names of the dead children and their teachers. Here they are. Read each one. Let yourself say their names aloud and let yourself feel the weight of each life on your lips, from your breath and whole being. Do not stand numb with the fear that you can't carry the burden of this sorrow. It is not true. You can. Let your voice be the wind horse of prayer. Sing.
Yes, yes, I choose love.