When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t breathe, like my lungs had hit their cap halfway. Outside the sky was crying fat, grey raindrops in floods that would cover the pavement. And somehow as I pulled my clothes on, this seemed fitting. The world has just witnessed another tragedy; one that seems more in place in 1909 than the 2016 America that we live in. Art has become ash again and as I read the news, the survivors’ words, see the past smiling faces of those now non-existent, all I can breathe is Lord, have mercy, Lord, have mercy, Lord, have mercy.
The world has always struggled to maintain beauty and love. Since the entrance of sin, despair has hovered over the face of what is good at every turn. So, we watch art become ash again. The artists, the music, the art, the noise, the LIVING, has been reduced to brokenness. Again. We almost shouldn’t be surprised.
The Oakland fire makes me angry to the point of tears. I can’t read any more coverage at the moment because my heart can’t hiccup any longer. And while I know this is a normal reaction for me, I feel like at a time like this, this is how humanity should feel. The trolls and the hate will pour in, but we should be driven to madness in the need to hold each other up in the time of mourning. The tears of the masses should be a symbol of the brokenness that we come from. We can’t ignore it, we have to admit it and we have to use it as fuel to right the wrongs.
There is nowhere in the world where it should be acceptable for a group of people to not be able to obtain decent living quarters. When the prices of society have driven their people to depravity, the screams for change should echo. When a building has only one fire escape, hand crafted from wood, the anger should burn in the hearts of the community. And when the cries of families and friends who have lost someone near, our cries should mix in the mourning. Because close or distant, we all need the healing because our souls feel the loss.
We all have our opinions. We all have our differences. We all have a moral code (or lack thereof) that inherently designs the way we walk through our lives. And yet: love. Love. Honest to goodness, praise Mary the mother of Jesus, dance in the rain with a stranger: LOVE. At a time like this, at a time like any, this should be the overwhelming, nauseating guide. The thing that allows me to hold hands with my Hispanic, Black, LGBTQ, Muslim, Jewish, Asian, European, African sisters and brothers and on and on and on because even though I will never see eye to eye, even though I will always decide to live out what I believe is right, who am I to say that I should dictate them. So: love. Because we are one. And if we aren’t one, then we are broken. And things will never change if we never unite. Bring back the spirit of the age of the labor union – the masses have power and, oh, the more power when coupled with genuine love.
A month or so ago, I wrote a letter to my 5 year old self. The 19 year old woman she has become is a much sadder, loving, messy person than the half-dressed child in the photos was. And in ways her eyes have been opened, but her eyes were always wide when it came to humanity. Today as I stared out my car window and thought of the funerals that would soon begin, I thought back to that letter and the closing note reminder I gave myself on love. And with that I will end this.
“I’m going to warn you, little one, they may never feel the same way, time hasn’t told yet. And that’s okay. Everything happens for a reason and you will love as hard as you can in the ways that you can, but that may not be forever. And that’s okay. Go ahead and cry and break a little, you’ll heal, darling. Wounds become scars and scars will fade into a reminder. Keep loving him and everyone, everything, around you – you have been allowed to love and, oh, that is a beautiful thing.” Please go love, with that will come change.