Saturday, June 10, 2017

Putting My Toes in the Water ... Again

I hate cold water.

And I don't just mean frigid water. I classify anything you wouldn't take a bath in as cold. Over Memorial Day weekend, we went to the Waterski Masters tournament at Callaway Gardens which takes place on Robin Lake. It's a great, fun time because you can get in the lake and watch the skiiers go by. How cool is that? Very cool. Very ... cold, actually.

Scores of people were happily frolicking in the water, yet I sat on the sand in my lawn chair, warm and dry. Until the kids had enough and resorted to shaming.
Dad, will you get in with us? You know Mom won't.
OK. FINE. I'll get in.

An inch at a time.

One stinking, frigid inch at a time.

When I succombed and plunged in to get my hair wet, I came up screaming like a banshee. Seriously, there were two girls who were swimming towards me thinking I must be in danger. It took some time to convince them that I was OK. Just cold.

I am a wimp. There. I said it.

This is also why I haven't blogged about Life in Avoid in a year. I am a wimp. I was scared to say what was on my mind. You see, last summer there was a rash of highly-publicized police brutality incidents, followed by a highly-publicized rash of incidents about violence against the police.

My black brothers and sisters were rightly outraged and screaming for justice.

And my brothers and sisters in blue were rightly outraged and screaming for justice.

So I didn't know what to say or how to say it. I had a mess of complex, maddening, scary, sad, contradictory thoughts bouncing off the inside of my head faster than I could write them down. Several times I tried to make sense of them, but I gave up after a while.

If I say what I'm thinking, I will piss off my black friends. And if I say what I'm thinking, I will piss off my blue ones.

But you see, my world ... my life ... my family ... is not black and white. Or black and blue. It's not either/or.

It's both/and.

But because I couldn't find the right combination words that wouldn't offend anyone, I didn't say anything.

Recently I heard a TED Radio Hour podcast featuring Jon Ronson that finally gave voice to what I was feeling. In it he talks about how one poorly-worded tweet can ruin a person's life. Not figuratively. Literally.
"The great thing about social media was that it gave a voice to voiceless people. But we're now creating a surveillance society where the smartest way to survive is to go back to being voiceless." — Jon Ronson
(You can listen to the podcast here.)

So much has happened in the last year ... so much I fear that my brain won't remember ... but I'm going to try. I'll try to catch you up on what's been and is going on in our little corner of Avoid. 

In the meantime, here's the post that I wrote a year ago and never published. If you want to shame me after reading it, so be it. It's my right to say it, and your right to disagree.


June 10, 2016

Last week was the definition of ugly/beautiful for me.

It started with the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile which took my breath away. Not again. Dear Lord ... Not again. 

And I have to be honest. My plea was more complicated than asking God why two more young black men died at the hands of those who pledge to serve and to protect. It also stemmed from my years as the wife of a cop. The nights I couldn't sleep because my husband's shift was over and he hadn't texted me yet to let me know he was on his way home. The times I watched a "breaking news" story about something happening in Atlanta and not knowing if he was a part of it.

My heart wasn't just torn because of what happened to Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile. But it was. Rent to the core.

It was also torn because I knew that every police officer's job just got a lot harder. And a lot more dangerous. And their families were going to be a lot more scared every time they put on that uniform and walk out the door. Not because their husbands, fathers, wives, sisters, brothers, or children had done anything wrong. No. But because another who wears the same uniform did. 

Isn't that a component of what we're all mad about anyway? Painting a whole community, race, or profession with a broad brush? 

Police who respond differently to a black man carrying a gun (with a permit) than a white man doing the same thing? 

People who see a uniform and want to make them pay for the actions of another?

People who drive through one neighborhood and see kids playing in the street and think, "Isn't that great that they're outside instead of inside with a video game controller!" And drive through a different neighborhood and see kids outside and think, "They must be up to no good. Where are their parents?" 

My heart just breaks over and over for all the victims. 

All the people who have suffered unjustly.

All the people who must absorb the anger that isn't really directed at them ... just someone who looks like them.

All the people who bear a burden cast on them by others. 

But that's good enough, right? To get mad at you because you represent or kinda resemble someone who did something wrong once? That's good enough, isn't it?

Isn't it?

It isn't. But no one seems to care right now.

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