Sunday, September 25, 2016

our "way of life"

I’m sitting comfortably, legs up on the couch, full mug of coffee within easy reach, knowing my girls are safely sleeping away this Sunday morning in their rooms. But the Boston Globe has a way of messing with that comfort.

I can skip most of the references to Trump, smile reading about Elizabeth Warren’s untiring fight, but I started reading the article about the latest shootings in the US and I lost all sense of contentment. It was this line, by the mayor of Burlington, WA, Steve Sexton, that got me. “The city of Burlington has probably changed forever,” he said “But I don’t think our way of life needs to change.”

Doesn’t it? If we don’t change our way of life, won’t this keep happening? Isn’t it time to think about change? That’s been my struggle these past few months. What, exactly can I do to help set things right? Something’s got to change, and each one of us has something to offer in this transformation, something that we must offer in order for it to happen. Don’t we?

The issues are so big and overwhelming that it’s paralyzing. What the hell can I do to influence police training so officers are equipped to handle difficult situations without firing a gun? Do I have a part in the Dakota pipeline protests? How do my choices about drinking water help or harm people in Flint Michigan?

There’s a movement afoot to focus on small acts as a way to overcome the paralysis but I’m worried that the time for small gestures is past. How can taking a moment to notice the place I’m in and posting a picture help? How can bringing cookies to my neighbors make any sort of a difference?

And yet, that would be a change in my way of life. I am not only insulated from the pain around me, I’m insulated from the life. At school I’ve been teaching the kids about the interactions between organisms in an ecosystem; how each organism has an influence and a dependence on others in the system. Our “way of life” seems to keep us separate from our own ecosystem but really just keeps us ignorant of our place in it. My drinking water choices do impact Flint, and Portland, and Boston, and Cynthia next door. Noticing those choices, thinking about the interactions I participate in with each of those choices is a small and necessary step. How do I continue along the path?

One small step is to stop saying we are not going to let the terrorists change us. They are changing us. They have created a space for a fear-mongering opportunist to scare us into voting for hate. They have caused us to turn away from families trying to pull their children out of war and into a safe childhood.

We are changed by every act of violence spread across the pages of the Boston Globe. Isn’t it time we choose how we are changed?

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