While some of us united this weekend, many divided. Online, we came together or fell apart as the news hit. Beirut, Paris and on and on. I watched as pictures of children & memes went up on my news feeds. Children, not old enough to know better or consent, being staged in photos with tag lines like “Sniper in Training” or “Islam -Wipe ‘Em out!”
I watched as my fellow authors, publishers & bloggers lost followers for saying Islam wasn’t evil. I watched as hatred spread on Twitter. As lines were drawn on Facebook. Enemies defined. I watched as ignorant, horrific remarks went up. Many of those same people who instantly changed their profile pics to the red, white and blue banner as a show of support also shared pictures or comments suggesting we wipe out Islam entirely. By doing so, they painted targets on the backs of my family, friends and colleagues.
The rest of us agonized over how to tell our children. Agonized over whether we should tell our children what was happening in their world. What could we tell them? We all agreed. It was incredible. The messages and texts from my writing community and chosen family were incredible. Together we affirmed: united we would stand or divided we would fall. And we held each other up.
When I saw those pictures of children pointing toy weapons, I recoiled. My head spinning. They were images of children I know and love.
I watched as my “friends” reduce themselves to the lowest, most ignorant, common denominator. I might have spiraled, but then I read I See You Humanity. Nicole Lyons spoke for my mother, for my father, and for my family with her impassioned and inclusive arguments for nonviolence.
I reached out to Al Lane who comforted me from England with his kindness. We agonized over tone. What would we say? How would we say it? He turned his pen to the page to write through it as I am doing now.
I reached out to Aaminah Shakur who was creating art with a heavy heart as a reflection of their truth. They would create art for peace and hope and to ease their own tension, pain and fear. To me, that art is all the colors that hold the world up. And what was produced over the weekend . . . seriously. . . you can feel a heartbeat.
I reached out to Shawna Ayoub Ainslie, she and I saying as little as possible because we knew–damn it!–we knew that our words were more than just rhetoric, but that few would receive them with their full meaning. So we both sank our words into our shared heart space, twinned of mind in our grief. We held each other up.
Those pictures! In my mind the children were drowning in the blood of American choices. I thought of soldiers, pilgrims, refugees, mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons worldwide saying goodbye to their families.
Will children lose their mothers and fathers to this never ending war? Will these children grow up to carry on more bloodshed? Or worse, because I can attest to the fear of losing your baby, will those parents lose their children? Will terror rip our hearts out? Will we lead them to our hearts through our minds? Will we learn nothing from the past?
These children we as a society are to foster, educate and mentor; we are showing that killing is the answer.
My brain scrambled with the fear I felt for our future . I cried over what would come of our humanity.
Many of us chose to shelter our children, like Maria, a school teacher, shared in her weekend post. We agreed with the greater community of this site to handle this fracture in the spirit of the world with dignity and solidarity. Not hand our babies toy guns and use them as propaganda for a war. Those of us who could used our voices; we made a choice. We chose to not arm the world with ignorance. We chose to connect, unite, to love, respect, listen, learn, read. . . understand.
Rather than concentrate on the hatred I saw this weekend, I am choosing to remember humanity. I will remember those who read my story and Shawna’s story and shared it. I choose to keep in my heart and prayers anyone who has lost a loved one for any reason. I will remember that life is precious. I will hold closest to my heart the words of people like Nicole and Maria who were thoughtful in their choices to arm us with careful thought, kindness, compassion, and empathy.
Those are the words to remember. . . the words and thoughts that will change the world.
What follows is but a handful of those I would like to thank for their support. I look forward to #LinkYourLife posts. I challenge you to write about how you will make positive change in the world this coming week, and to pass the challenge on to at least two friends. Have them link back to this post so we can collect them for a roundup showcasing the power of words to effect global change. Tag your posts with #LinkYourLife and #LinkYourCompassion on social media. I can’t wait to read your hope.