It’s not up to them.
Well, yes, it is. That’s why we elected them, put our faith in them, look up to them. And go about our daily lives trusting they have our best interests at heart, the country’s best interest at heart.
But no, it’s not up to them. It’s up to all of us. To do in our everyday lives what we expect of those in power. To live with integrity, compassion, honesty, and love.
This isn’t America.
Well, yes, it is. Maybe not for you or me personally, but let the light in. Let the light shine on all of America. Not just the parts we want to see, but those things under the surface that have festered and fermented for years and years until they had no place to go but to erupt. No longer to be ignored. No longer denied.
Let the light in.
As painful as it is. Let the light shine on all of America. On all of our history. On the proud and the shameful. Let the light shine on all of our people, all of our stories. The eruption did not happen out of nowhere. It has been building and broiling for a long, long time.
This isn’t America.
Yes, it is, but not the America I want for you or me or my grandchildren or anyone’s grandchildren. My grandchildren are yours and yours are mine. And they all matter. Every one of them. That is the basic truth I want every action to take. That I care about your grandchildren as much as I care about mine. That is the America I want.
But what can I do?
That’s what I keep asking myself. I care. I vote. I pay taxes. I treat my neighbors with respect. I donate to worthy causes.
And the more I let the light in, the more it hurts my eyes. Hurts my heart. I am overwhelmed with all that is being illuminated. I want to disappear into my own little world, my own little cocoon, my own bubble. But then I become part of the problem. I’m not seeing what’s right before my eyes.
It’s a hard balance for me. To see more clearly, to be enraged more deeply, and to not be so engulfed by my rage that I melt into a puddle of mud and muck with nothing left to give. Truthfully, the more the light shines, the more I feel helpless. Impotent. Paralyzed.
I sit here wanting the right words. Struggling for any words.
In the last week I read so many things about anger. One thing that struck me is that anger is often the other face of grief. And there it is. The grief I’m feeling for my country. The grief under the rage. The grief. The rage. The helplessness.
I look for hope.
A year or so ago, I learned of Valerie Kaur, the founder of the Revolutionary Love Project. Valerie is a civil rights activist, an attorney, a filmmaker. She is a Sikh, a woman of color. She and her family have experienced hate crimes, ever since 9-11 when anyone who looked Muslim was seen as a potential terrorist. She tells her story in See No Stranger. It is more than a book on pain and fear. It is a story of turning the rage and the experiences and the knowledge into the hard work needed to heal our wounds and to reimagine what is possible.
Valerie is one I turn to. She speaks of the rage I feel, the rage that most of us are feeling. She urges a rage not bent on revenge, but a rage that seeks change. A “divine” rage. Because it is right. Because it comes from a love for all of life. She speaks from her own healing and growth. She offers me a beacon of light, of hope.
On Monday we will celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., another who faced hatred and violence and called not for revenge, but for change. What better words than his to guide me:
Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Let the light in.
And whether it’s a single candle or a floodlight, let your light out.