Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When did it get so hard to love?

I had a tidy little post for today. A response to a writing prompt - fluffy, funny, feel good. It'll turn up later. Right now I'm just a raw bundle of reaction.

The Avett Brothers are singing to me today: "Are you aware the shape I'm in? My hands they shake, my head it spins. Oh Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in... three words that became hard to say. I and Love and You."

When did it get so hard to love? I don't mean wild romance, or the intense insanity we feel for our children, or even our affection for friends.
I mean "love your neighbor as yourself".
I mean "love your enemies".

When did it become OK to hate for hating's sake? When did it become all right to set up on opposite sides of a barrier of straw and hurl mindless insults?

I live intentionally in a pretty happy little bubble. I tune out the news. I'm not a "knee-jerk" anything. I hope I'm not even a jerk. I'm morally conservative, but politically liberal. I've been called a "fundamentalist Christian" in that tone because I believe that if you are going to be a Christian, you should do what the Bible says. I've been called a "liberal" in that tone because I believe that poor people should be fed and clothed and be able to go to the doctor, that all people should share equal freedoms; because I believe that people take precedence over profits and hurting people for any reason is wrong; because I believe that we should protect our natural resources and walk with mindfulness on this earth; because I believe we all have a right to choose our lives. By my calculations, with the above statements, I've alienated just about all 3 of my readers. So be it.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me. I don't expect to always be right. I listen and I learn. I really do try hard to see things from as many directions as possible. It comes with a love of words, I believe. Hearing the words that others use to explain their views is fascinating to me, even if I don't agree. I try not to judge too harshly, because try to understand the person behind the words, the actions. What bits and pieces of experience and nonsense and bad days have brought them to this spot? How does this particular moment in time interweave with their lives whole cloth?

When did it get so hard to love? The battles I choose to fight are usually small and if not winnable, then at least manageable. The larger battles, I do what I can personally not to exacerbate things, but leave the fighting to those who have more intestinal fortitude than I. There are some alarming chinks in my armor.

I awoke this morning to reports of police raids, bulldozers, billy clubs, tear gas, sound cannons. I needn't go into details; a simple Google search will bring up plenty of news stories written from whatever angle you choose to view it. All I feel is grief. It's come to this: dividing, polarizing, hurting, screaming across barriers. If everyone is shouting, who will hear? How much does a NYC cop make? Can't be much. Aren't they part of this 99%? How does that work? If you have to do something in the middle of the night, keeping it a secret from the very people who are carrying it out, is it something you should be doing?

My dad used to speak in anchor points. It takes people who are out of bounds to move the anchor points of society, bit by painful bit. It feels as though I'm stuck in a tug-of-war for those anchor points with howling on both sides. Very much like that one year at summer camp, I just want to sit down in the mud and cry. When did it get so hard to love?

I don't have answers, I'm not even sure what all the questions are. I've chosen the ostrich approach to the world at large since about 2004 for my sake, for my children's sake. But some fearsome winds have been eroding that sand around my head for the last several months and the uncovered view seems mighty bleak sometimes.

This isn't a treatise or manifesto, an op-ed, or even a completely formed opinion. Just an honest outpouring of grief and confusion with very little editing or self-censorship. It's been building for a while and those bulldozers rushed in with police in riot gear and broke the dam. Apologies for lack of eloquence or even coherent thought. Sometimes there is something so large and unwieldy and chaotic inside me that stands up and screams "NO!"


  1. Thank you for this. It is gorgeous--and though mostly uncensored, it is most definitely NOT incoherent.I think many of us would like to touch on some aspect of this subject (I have something on it saved in draft), but it is so HUGE and intimidating--fraught with complex social and economic realities. It was great to see it brought down to such a human, personal scale.

    (PS--Wholly unalienated reader here, for what that's worth. Thanks again.)

  2. Oh my, thank you. I'd love to see what you've written about it when it's ready. So huge, so complex, so helpless. Anyway, thanks for reading and wahoo! I still have a reader left! You and me, baby, we'll take the world by blog. Seriously, I really appreciate such a kind response to my babbling.

  3. You put into words what I've been thinking about this and many other matters in the world around us (our country). Most days I rant and rave but cannot put in words how I am feeling inside. I, too, have unplugged from the daily onslaught of news or what now passes for news. My youngest only watches wholesome DVDs borrowed from the library. No Disney, no network or cable shows. Her idea, too.

  4. Good for you and good for her! Thanks for reading my rantings and ravings.

  5. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the "bad" in the news, but fundamentally I believe people are good and kind certainly on the smaller-scale of everyday life. I hope that goodness and kindness can transfer to the larger-scale world somehow.

  6. @shambolicliving, I completely agree with you. Some days I just suddenly get swept up by the "big bad". Takes a moment to refocus on the everyday good. Thank you.

  7. Not alienated. In fact the paragraph you expected to alienate your readers was one I could have written. Morally conservative, politically liberal. Where does such a person fit anyway?


  8. @Sarah - One of the many reasons I adore you. I suspect we're not the only two, but I agree with you. Sometimes I feel like I'm on the outs with everyone. Not always a bad thing, though.


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