I expect, like me, you feel as if you had gotten the news that a member of your family died suddenly in some bizarre accident. It feels unreal, and frightening and impossibly wrong. You wonder what you could have done to keep it from happening. You are furious at your loved one for doing something so reckless and stupid. You feel like the world as you knew it has turned upside down.
You aren’t wrong. You weren’t wrong to believe that rationality and kindness and inclusion would prevail. I mean, we were wrong, but believing in those things is never the wrong thing to do. So we get to mourn. We get to rage. We get to swear and point fingers of blame. We get to eat too much sugar and watch too much TV and cry and swear. Especially swear.
And here is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that now we get back to work, back to the struggle for justice and kindness and inclusion, for a world where everyone is free and equal and safe, where no one has to fear for their lives because of their religion or their gender or the color of their skin. But I just can’t do that. Not yet. Not while we are still sitting, stunned with grief, confused about this world where we thought be belonged.First we tear our clothes or light candles or put on the music that lets us weep. First we question how this could have happened, how we could have been so wrong about this country we love, which we had imagined loved us in return. First we tenderly let go of the joy that had seemed so close at hand, now slipped from our fingers.
But when you’re ready, when you can look up from the TV or doughnuts or whatever got you through the night, here’s what I think we can do. Just be kind. Start small. Begin where it’s simplest: your pets, your children, your partner, your friends. Offer a hug or a listening ear in those places where you know it will be returned. But when you’re ready, go bigger. Look for the friend who has more to lose than you. Let your sorrow open a door to hearing their grief and fear. Tell them that they are not alone, that they will never have to meet this alone. When you can, go bigger still. Welcome the stranger. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Not because you are strong or whole or magnanimous, but because each moment of connection will lighten your grief.
Someday, maybe even soon, I hope there will be strategy and plans and action, protest and public prayer and chanting in the streets. Someday, and I hope it’s soon, there will be renewed hope, renewed commitment to building the world we will never stop dreaming of. But until then, darlings, let’s just try to find our way to kind.