I wish I had something profound to write today. Something uplifting, inspiring, motivating.
Today’s a day where I wish I didn’t commit to a daily blog.
Because I’m struggling.
I’m struggling to make sense of all that’s going on in our country right now
I’m struggling knowing that many, many people are hurting and angry and desperate. And have been for a long time.
I’m struggling with what I could have done better. What I can do better.
I’m struggling with what exactly to tell my children.
I’m struggling with wanting to help, make an impact, but not knowing exactly how.
I’m struggling to write this post.
Perhaps you’re struggling too.
Maybe the first step is to just admit that we’re all struggling.
And then decide that no matter what, we will struggle together.
And maybe, just maybe, it’s in that united, struggling space where real change can enter.
4 thoughts on “Struggling”
Yes – we are all struggling…It’s exhausting to see this again and again. I have seen it in different ways forever…I wrote and put this up on Facebook.
When I was a child of nine my mother left my brother and me at her childhood friend’s house in Van Nuys, California. We left our Brooklyn ghetto and were suddenly surrounded by a world of brilliant color slashed through with the green that screams verdant. It was a hard world to navigate, this desire to walk, to touch, to learn new dangers like fire ants and to hurt nothing alive. The most exquisite of these things were the butterflies. We’d seen them before but nothing like the preponderance of dazzling fragility flying around us. The day we were going home, our host, who’d noticed our fascination with them offered to send us home with one to show our mother. We nodded eagerly, imagining one flittering around a jar, which we would show her and then release in Prospect Park. A few seconds later he captured one then pierced its entire body starting at the head and while it squirmed and flapped fruitlessly till it ceased moving, his face expressed only satisfaction and excitement.
When I was eleven, and the city flooded with thin, haunted eyed men and women tattooed with numbers, all the whispers I’d heard around me for some years came into clear focus. That Tuesday, after school, I sat at a table in the library and for the first time saw the famous photo of skeletal, tattooed children, eyes devoid of joy, hands crossed in front of naked bodies and labeled, “medical research.” I looked at the blank faces of the men who did these experiments, those who herded Jews into ovens and understood that had my Jewish grandparents not fled with their own children, those children would have been my parents.
When I was sixteen, working in a factory sorting and tagging clothes over the summer, one of my co-workers, Mary, was a developmentally delayed young woman who was never allowed to go on break with the rest of us. It seemed illegal to me but when I questioned our supervisor she told me to mind my own business. I would frequently bring back a cola and share my cookie with Mary and one day, returning a little early, I heard a cry from the stacks of clothes and saw Mary, face red and tearful, and the head of the factory, his face flushed and satisfied, zipping his fly as he walked away. I hurried to get the supervisor who admonished me to keep my mouth shut. She told me that Mary would never be able to find a job anywhere else, that this job was what she had and it was better than alternative circumstances. She told me that the cheapest commodity on the planet was human beings.
Over the course of my seventy-six year life, I’ve encountered casual cruelty. A gay friend being beaten almost to death by a group of young men and left for dead. The almost sexually gratified expression of the white crowds at lynchings. A Vietnamese client I worked with in a counseling center, laughingly called poontang, by my supervisor when I tried to discuss her horrible PTSD. The vicious, satisfied faces of those calling small children nigger as they integrated public schools. I’m haunted by faces, the self-entitled smiles of many of the convicted men I worked with in a program for domestic violence, the hated-filled white supremacists at the Charleston rally, the self-righteous expletives of those seeking to block entrance of poor women into family planning centers.
Yesterday I saw the bored, ho-hum face of Derek Chauvin, hands in pockets, as rested his knee on the neck of George Floyd, oblivious to the man’s gasps of “I can’t breathe,” three fellow police officers watching silently. His is the face that has echoed down through time, reverberating and echoing in a tunnel of casual cruelty that is never diminished. The president of the United States beats a drum of ignorance and encouragement and his followers march behind with bank accounts and guns. Hannah Arendt, at Eichmann’s trial coined the phrase, ”The banality of evil.” We have worked to overcome this banality forever it seems, and it always reappears, but perhaps this time, while we can’t vanquish it, we can shine the light of undeniable truth and at least diminish it.
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thank you Michelle for sharing this beautiful and heartbreaking post. i am so proud to know you and call you my friend.
Your comment on struggle, hurt and desperation made me think of a short text that a 95 year old friend of mine carries in her purse.
If you always assume
the person sitting next to you
is the Messiah
waiting for some simple human kindness —
You will soon come to weigh your words
and watch your hands.
And if the person chooses
Not to be revealed
In your time —
It will not matter.
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wow. that’s beautiful. thank you for sharing Alex.