Staying Focused

Before I start, I want to take a moment to address a very specific group of readers–Every woman, every person of color, every Muslim, every immigrant, every child of immigrants, every member of the LGBTQI+ community:

I’m not going to pretend to know how you feel right now.

I can’t. I cannot–and never will–understand the fear, the anger, the sadness, the rejection you’re feeling right now. I’m a straight white male with first world problems. I can never understand the pain of living in a country that consistently fails me. Any calls I make for strength, for unity, for hope, cannot possibly carry the weight that I’d want it to carry. I can’t be the one to tell you to stay strong, no matter how much I may want to. That being said, I want you to know something:

I Love You. For any iota of meaning that may carry, for each and every modicum of passion with which it is imbued, for all of its worth, no matter how little it may feel or how little it may seem right now: I Love You. I will not abandon you. I will fight alongside you until I cease to draw breath. I can speak only for myself, but I am not the only one who feels this way. You are not alone.

 

Now, for everyone:

For over a year, we watched a rabid dog chase a car, it’s foaming jaws snapping in senseless, disgusting, vile rage at the forward march of time, the inevitable forces of progress and civility. Last night, the dog caught the car. Damage will be done, but at the end of the day, it’s a rabid dog. It will flail and stumble and gnash its teeth. Now is the time when we regroup.

For every tragedy, for every atrocity, for every massive step backwards we take as a country, we cling to knowledge and culture. In these trying times, we must continue to do so.

I find myself thinking of Jazz, Alice and Violet’s relationship in particular. In the wake of something awful, they found a peculiar friendship. By no means did it overshadow the tragedy, but it was something to cling to. Something small, a low candle in the dark, but something nonetheless. Hanging on.

Morrison’s work reflects her identity. As someone who has seen both the ugliness and the beauty in humanity, she manages to capture them exceptionally well in written words, with the layers of emotional depth they deserve. While she writes primarily for a black audience, she invites everyone else to join in, and everyone should. Now is the time to study the human condition through art, to make the most of education and knowledge and culture. Through writers like her, we gain understanding, and from that, progress. Glorious, agonizingly slow progress. There’s a lot to learn in the arts, a lot to maintain in the cultures that hold together against a tumultuous and often scary historical landscape. We’ll stay focused. We’ll make the most of this. We’ll arm ourselves with our accumulated knowledge and carry it with us into the future. Then we’ll try again.

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