I had something else written tonight. But in that awkward moment where I went to post a photo of myself in a black dress with lace shoulders and a red bra underneath with a caption reading “sexy or skanky?” on Facebook to ask for opinions before I wore it a party this evening I remembered that something awful happened today, and most of the folks I see online this evening are mourning.
|sexy or skan-k… oh.|
When I heard about the shooting at the Elementary School in Newtown, CT I was in a meeting at work. Angry Wombat texted me the news… she’s usually the person I hear from first… she’s as plugged into what’s going on in the world as I am disconnected from it; we all cope in different ways, eh? Then during some group work in that same meeting my colleagues, all having now checked their phones, started discussing the matter. Two of the three don’t have children–I’m not sure how important that is to the story but it is something I noticed at the time. Although they spoke about it as a tragedy their comments were so matter of fact… I didn’t sense any emotion in their words. I sat across from them at the table noticing that my body was filling with tension like a bottle being filled with liquid; tingling turned to tensing from my toes to my gut and as it moved upward still I noticed myself starting to gag and wretch in small movements. I closed my eyes and plugged my ears trying to move away from the conversation without getting up… it didn’t help. They didn’t notice me or my reaction…
I sat with my visceral emotional reaction to the news and watched as it faded and eventually left my body. I chose not to check the news on my way back to the office or talk to anyone else about it but did end up on Facebook and witnessed reactions all across the spectrum. I read a lot about gun control. A lot less about mental health. I read about a lot of sadness, heartache, prayers, and light. I read a lot of anger.
At first the anger bothered me. Don’t people know that this kind of reactive hatred is why we exist in a world where this kind of things happened? …I thought to myself
But I know that denying and suppressing anger doesn’t make anything any better either so I stepped back from that and waited for what came next. Eventually I realized I wasn’t bothered by the anger, I was still a little bothered by the hate, but what really concerned me was the fear.
In fear we are reactive. We are quick to judge and act on those judgments. There are calls to arms, which is fine… whatever gets people moving in a direction toward change, but can we stop for a moment and take a breath first? Do you usually make your best decisions when you’re in the midst of an intense and painful emotional response? I don’t. And beyond that, do you find that your energy for the pursuit of this action wanes as your body and brain settles down again? I do.
While I am more for gun control than against… and more for mental health services than against… and more for peace than against… what I’m for most of all is love. I don’t believe that any fear based reaction to tragedy is going to move any of us in a sustainable effort towards growth or positive change.
So sure, let’s evaluate gun control… yes, let’s talk about the stigma of mental health services as a way to diminish it… definitely, let’s talk about how to love one another. But let’s not just do it today and for the next several weeks because we’re afraid of what happens when we don’t… let’s keep talking about it. every day.