One Life

My goodness, it’s been a tough week.

What year is it again? I had to double check.

I am a child of the nineties, one of those delusional citizens who thought we as a nation could get over this shit. In truth, I thought we were on our way over it. We weren’t there  of course, we weren’t even close, but I thought we were on our way. Yes, I know racial tension has been palpable in this country ever since the first white Europeans set foot on these shores, but I truly thought we were collectively marching – painfully slowly – in the direction of unity. There was even a bit of evidence to support this notion. Remember August 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana? The face of the victims of that terrible tragedy were black Americans. And do you recall that the rest of America – black, white, brown, yellow and red – came together to shatter records for charitable giving to help those victims?  That was really something.

Shortly after Katrina, we as a nation voted overwhelmingly to put a black family in the White House – twice.

Of course there were steps backward. Predictably, our first black First Family faced plenty of true ugliness. Then we had Trayvon Martin, Philando Castille, Tamir Rice and too many other unarmed and objectively unthreatening young black men shot dead by paranoid citizens or law enforcement. Those were painful and shameful moments, added to a long history of painful and shameful moments.

But I was wholly unprepared to watch a scene from the 1960’s play out on my television this past weekend, this time in color and happening live.

White men and women – shockingly young – marching with torches and spewing hate. Asserting a superiority they will never, ever deserve. In 2017, I was not prepared to witness the craven acts of history replayed, this time emboldened by the eschewal of concealing costumes.

Three people lost their lives. Heather Heyer, a young woman who not only stood up for love and unity, but who strove to understand the roots of the opposing inhumane hatred. Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates, two Virginia State Troopers who were doing their job to monitor the event. Three lives extinguished because a group of people came together united in hatred. Painful. Shameful.

You and me, we each have just our one life in these troubled times. Just one little life plugging along in our one little community. And it’s so easy to feel small and insignificant in the turmoil. It’s so natural to feel helpless.

In one of the greatest lines every put to paper, poet Mary Oliver asks:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?”

Have you ever really considered that? Your one wild and precious life? My hope is that now, more than ever, you will. My hope is that now, more than ever, you will commit your one life to fiercely showing love, consciously and deliberately spreading love every day to anyone. It’s easier than you think, critically important, and needed now and always.

4 Thoughts

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