I've been sitting at my counter for the last little while trying to read my daily newspaper and drink my daily smoothie. Instead of delving into the news of the morning, I am caught up in the news of yesterday.
I feel tremendous sadness. In addition, and to use a colloquialism of my generation, I have so many feels.
I am horrified that someone would attack Congress-people of any party. I am stunned that it was during a practice of "America's Favorite Pastime." I am dismayed that the shooter was a big supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders, the candidate I supported for president during the primaries. (Obviously, that has no bearing on Bernie as a candidate or his supporters at large, but it's easy to start thinking of Bernie supporters as kindred spirits of sorts.) An attack on Congress reminds me of A Handmaid's Tale, as so many things of late do. I am enraged that someone who identifies with similar political and social leanings as I would take that energy and turn into violence and terror--and yes, this shooting was an act of terror as are most shootings that occur in the United States.
I am also disturbed that another shooting also happened yesterday, this one in San Fransisco.
I am disturbed that so many shootings happen on the regular in the United States. So many happen, in fact, that when I read about them in the newspaper they almost don't even feel like news anymore, unless it's somehow a "high profile" shooting like that in Alexandria.
Despite being heavily distraught and frightened and angered about the countless and endless shootings in the U.S., I feel resistance to writing about the omnipresent "gun debate" today. Not because I don't think changes should be made--I do think changes should be made--but more because it doesn't suit the feelings of humanity that seem to be pouring out of me right now.
Since the election, I and so many others have been on an almost constant career of political engagement. It is exciting, it is horrifying, it is frustrating, it is energizing, it is draining, it is empowering, it is defeating. But it's also easy to lose sight of some of the humanity of your opponents. Alexandria's shooter clearly lost his ability to see the humanity in opponents.
I can confidently say that most people who oppose Trump and the GOP majority in Congress retain love and beauty and an understanding of humanity. Despite that, I find myself reviewing past thoughts and feelings I've had about the GOP as a whole, and my representatives specifically. Do I see them as people first? Do I see them as genuinely trying to do their best even if their best is the complete opposite of what I would like them to do? Can I still love their humanity if I think they have lost sight of the humanity in the poor, the LGBT, women, people of color, refugees, and all the groups feeling targeted by GOP policy?
It's messy and it's hard--there are no easy directions for navigating our current political climate.
I don't even want to talk about the right wing mouthpieces other than to say that what has trickled down to me (I really never watch news TV except The Daily Show--which just so you know is satirical news that definitely skews liberal) has been the opposite of what I'd hope from members of the Republican party. I won't go into details, because I don't want to feed that fire. I just wish and hope we could all do better.
The long and short of it is, I feel like that girl from Mean Girls who just has a lot of feelings.
There are so many discouraging things drifting through my brain right now, but the thing that's surfacing the most today is the knowledge that one blog post (or several), one article (or several), one shooting (or several) won't change us. We've been at each other's throats for so long--even before Trump--it's like we don't know any other way. How do we stop it?
I don't know. It's something that can't be fixed by only one person (or even several). I guess in the mean time I'll continue to read my books, write my poems and blog posts, and maybe even make that cake filled with rainbows and smiles.