The past few months and weeks have been full of so much grim news in the world: terrible violence and the death of innocents in Israel and Palestine, Ukraine, and Iraq; more innocents killed daily by gun violence here in the United States; more unarmed black boys being shot by police; ebola terror; a refugee crisis on our very own southern border, the approval by the highest court of this nation of an employer’s right to discriminate against women, the death of a beloved, brilliant, beautiful man who finally lost his battle with the terrible monster that is depression. And this list only scratches the surface.
A lot of grim fucking news.
When I graduated from law school, I became a litigator, because my entire life, I’d gotten off on the adrenaline surge of arguing, of winning a point, of being right, of persuading others that I was right. And I wanted to fight for causes that I cared about, for people who needed fighting for. And I was really good at it.
And then I had a child. And I grew up a little (a lot). And then my child died. And then I got cancer. And somewhere in there, I realized I no longer enjoyed the rush of the fight–the jolt it gave me was no longer thrilling but rather disturbing. I have difficulty compartmentalizing, and as I headed closer to middle age, I realized that I no longer wanted to fight for a living.
In the face of so much grim news over the last several months, my instinct has been to retreat. I stopped posting anything politically oriented on Facebook, feeling that I was either shouting in an echo chamber or engaging with people who would never be persuaded, all in the context of a medium where no one, including me, engaged in conversation like they would in real life. No one seemed to follow the basic rules of interpersonal interactions and relationships.
In the face of so much grim news, I began to feel so small, so feeble, so powerless. I stopped responding to requests for my activism, for my participation, for my phone calls, for my voice. I’m only one person, I said to myself. Raising my voice will never make a difference. And I don’t want to fight for a living.
But I’ve now realized my mistake.
I’m not fighting for a living. I’m fighting for a life.
I’m fighting for the life and the legacy that I want to leave behind for my children. I’m fighting for their lives and the world I want them to grow up in. I’m fighting for the lives of all the schoolteachers in my home state whose very existence is being threatened by a legislature run amok with corporate greed. I’m fighting for the lives of so many beautiful black boys and girls whose mothers say goodbye to them in the morning, wondering if they are going to be the next Mike Brown.
I don’t know how I’m going to do it. I’m still bad at compartmentalizing. If I let any of this in too far (and what astounding privilege exists in my life that it is even a CHOICE to let it all in–so many, many out there have no choice, because they are living it every day), I will let it in all the way.
But I’ve got to do it, because I’m fighting for a life.
I still feel small. I still feel feeble. I still feel powerless. I still have no idea how to make any of it different. How to help. How to change it.
But I’m going to start with letting it in.
And I’m going to take a cue from my beautiful little girl whose favorite song was all about love, whose spirit is always guiding me so gently, yet so urgently.
I’m going to start with love.
“You got to remember the love… Share love. Spread love. Give love. Measure your life in love.” ~ Rent