Friday, July 8, 2016

2 + 2 Does Not Equal Five

Privileged bed

Still flat on my back.

I'm sort of tired of mincing my words, and as some of you know, I'm not a woman who generally minces my words, except when I do. I'm not going to mince my words. I've trudged like many of you, the past couple of days, months, years, lifetimes, mulling not musing about the latest murders of innocent black men. I've watched the videos and wept. I'm ineffectual. I've posted the requisite articles, including a particularly fetching black and yellow BLACK LIVES MATTER poster, under which someone posted ALL LIVES MATTER (no shit, Sherlock, as they say, but all dolphins matter, too). I'm not going to mince my words. My sons, my daughter and I have deep and committed personal relationships with black people that demand I not mince my words.

I'm a white citizen in a country with a dark stain that has nothing to do with skin. America is an apple with a rotten core. We're a violent people with a heritage of slavery and genocide. We live in a country where a police officer, sworn to protect and serve, fires a gun into a car with a child sitting in the back seat and people make excuses for that police officer. I'm not going to mince words. If you come up with some kind of argument for that policeman's actions -- his job is difficult, he operates under extreme stress, he thought his life was in danger -- you are wrong. If you say that All Lives Matter and deride the exclusive Black Lives Matter, you are wrong and you are complicit. This is not opinion. This is fact.


We live in a country where a white man gets a bunch of his mother's guns and goes into an elementary school and shoots a classroom full of first graders dead. We live in a country whose response to that is more guns sold. We live in a country where generally law-abiding people feel justified owning firearms as a personal right, who believe that they are protecting themselves and their families because they can kill someone in turn. We live in a country where snipers can mow down police officers, protecting and serving, in seconds, believing it's their right to do so.

At least one sniper is killed by a programmed robot.

Flags are flown at half-mast for these officers.

I receive a telephone call. A robot asks me to donate to the Police Officers' Association.

It's difficult not to make metaphor, symbol, words, mince.

So hope for a sea change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.*

The great Irish poet Seamus Heaney said that, and he was writing about ancient Greek tragedy. There is nothing new under the sun. That's Ecclesiastes.

I'm no stranger to bias as a mother of a severely disabled young woman. I have spent much of the last twenty-one years making a case for her dignity as a human being and deflecting the subtle arguments that reduce her to a commodity or me to a dependent leech on the system. Last night, Sophie had a giant seizure in her room whose sound brought me running to her door. She lay on the floor against the door, thrashing and groaning. The door is padded. Her head made only soft thuds, absorbed. I couldn't open the door. I called for Henry, her seventeen year old brother. He peered over the door, stepped back twice and then made a flying leap over it and over her. He pulled her, thrashing, away from the door so that I could open it. I opened it, knelt down and put my arms around her knees. Henry put his arms around her shoulders. We lifted her together and lay her on the bed. He bent over her and wiped her hair from her face, the drool from her cheek. What does this have to do with anything?

It means once in a lifetime
That justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.*

*from The Cure at Troy, by Seamus Heaney


  1. Rather than trying to reach for too many words that will say nothing, I will say your willingness not to be silent and the eloquence with which you do so remind me that our souls are tenacious. May our hearts be brave. xo

  2. I was just an Angella's blog and will say the same thing here. I want to say so much but my soul is just drained. I have nothing to add to your post.

  3. I think we should just take all the fucking flags down.

  4. I don't understand America at all. The answer to people being killed with guns is more guns. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind to quote Gandhi.

    I said a prayer for the young man and his family, for the officers killed, for all the people, all the suffering that happens everyday. We live such a short time it seems such a shame that we are unable to do so with kindness and compassion. I'm no better. When I'm tired, hungry, stressed, I'm a bitch. I've been angry enough to seriously hurt someone. To place a gun into the hands of a person who is fearful or angry, any human
    being for instance, is foolishness and dangerous. As a species we cannot be trusted with weapons I don't think.

  5. Strong women don't mince words.
    Your sword cut clean and strong.
    The dark side of this country has become the larger part of it and it feels like a spreading plague. I've never understood America anyway, it is a scary place.

  6. How much worse can it get? That's the same question I asked after the slaughter of precious school children. After Orlando. After every Chicago weekend. I find myself wanting to stick my head in sand. I won't though.


  7. Yes. There is no reason not to disarm. It would be a good start, although I believe that the bigger problem is that we have become the most fearful nation on earth. Our primary motivation is "protection," which means that our primary fear is fear. It is a sad state of affairs, to be certain, and it will only get worse if we don't figure out how to interrupt that cycle.

  8. So much. All over. Sadness. Disappointment. Fear. Hope. Gratitude. Love. Confusion, sure, but not about what is right and wrong.

    PS Henry is quite obviously a superhero and that last paragraph made my heart glow <3 I'm sorry Sophie had a big seizure though.

    I'm struggling to put words to my feelings/thoughts right now, so I hope you know what I mean :o)

  9. It means that in the midst of hatred, ignorance and bigotry there is love. Thank you for not mincing words. White people cannot mince words now because there are certain important words to be said that some white people will only be able to hear from other white people. It is the world we have inherited, the one we ache to make better. You make it better. Henry with his flying leap across the door frame makes it better. I am holding fast to that image of you and Henry, lifting Sophie, loving her. You have taught your children to love, and so you are changing the world for good. And you don't mince words.



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