Different Set of Eyes

wallup.net

Yesterday morning, while sitting in a writing lab with a student, we both received notifications at the same time, about the Houston tragedy – Tragedy in Texas – and we talked for a minute or two of our sadness. We exchanged the usual, it keeps happening, oh that’s scary, terrible, any number of coined phrases that are now attached to school shootings. But then I turned to her and I asked her,

“How do you feel about that?” and I looked her directly in the eye.

She paused for a moment, and then replied, “I’m sorry, but the first thing I think about is White people,” and she tried to restrain a natural smile, not one of happiness but one of timid reality that she lives in every day. See this young woman is Latina, and her mindset does not comprehend such an acceptance of school shootings. She believes the ‘mental health’ attachment is just another way of protecting the White community.

I looked at her and said, “You’re right.” But I was just beginning to think about the reality of her words. I couldn’t get past it the rest of the day. In my class later on in the morning, when the subject came up, there she was again, and this time her response was that society just allows it to happen because they can wrap it around a ‘mental illness’ label. I wondered if the rest of our society might see it as clearly as she does. I thought about her world.

In her scope of reasoning she has other concerns. Number one, she lives in a world where ICE is constantly knocking on her door, her friend’s door, family, acquaintances who every day wake up wondering if this is the day – will someone today lose their rights and feel the anxiety of having their family, lifestyle ripped apart. Certainly, it is a different measure than the immediacy of a school shooting leaving the slain to disrupt the lives of their family and friends, but hers is a unique pain.

I honestly don’t believe there is a concern in her world that anyone she is close to would ever resort to bringing a weapon to school and gunning down anyone in their presence. But I do think she walks around school, with her observant insight, wondering what next. What will be the next offense that will bear down on her society.

I’ve thought about my conversation with this young woman for the last 24 hours. She has given me new insight into what it is each of us thinks about every day, what are our central concerns, who do we worry about, and rather, when we think of an emotional commitment, what end holds confidence in our survival? Where she might be in constant motion trying to balance her world, her education, her work life all in a genuine effort to survive in America as a Latina woman, I’m on the other hand thinking about what plans I have for the weekend, and how can I pace my grading through the end of school year.

I don’t worry about losing my family to an immigration sweep. I do worry about school shootings, and I am constantly confused by how it continues to occur and how our society is gradually hypnotized into this absurd level of acceptance. She on the other hand holds a very sharp and poignant answer that when the rest of us stop and think about it, reveals a posture in our society that seems easily put aside.

Perhaps we are erring when we simply call it mental health rather than privilege.


photo taken from Pinterest

Advertisements

While We Wait We Witness

handguns

A firestorm of controversy,

life turned upside down,

dangling in the clouds

are the idealists, the true

companions of our forgiveness.

 

On earth here in damp soil

trodden upon by the masses

there are children screaming

parents crying

siblings a wonder

of just where it all belongs.

 

In the news today there’s noise

the sort that settles the easily

drawn by naive persecutions.

Instead of wondering what

goal is felt by all of them,

it is the personal will to struggle.

 

While we wait for our prosecution,

The execution of rhetoric we witness.

Photo – Pinterest

When Obama Cries

I would ask you this, when your criticism mounts,

do you remember your own tears?

When President Obama shows real tears,

is there a moment when we wonder about ourselves,

when human nature responds with emotion,

we enjoy, we love, we relish the opportunity

to point out our weak society.

When the Newtown tragedy was discussed in your own home,

were there tears, do  you remember,

did you block that part out only because you couldn’t possibly

agree with the truth?

Do you remember the first time your mother told you it is ok,

to cry.

To cry in public,

to recognize we are human beings and sadness when on display

could be powerful beyond display.

Do you understand passion, I believe President Obama wants you to.

Think about your last cry, and honor the beauty of peace

of mind and body.

Think about what leadership means when emotion is honorable.

Haven’t Heard

I listened only long enough to fear,

the easiest emotion,

that moment when suddenly confusion, our lives,

becomes less about

being in control,

far more about wanting to

run away.

I want that,

more than anything else in the world,

I don’t want to be there when it happens.

I don’t desire definition.

Whether we begin to accept anything at all,

seems relevant only to those who might no longer need hope,

those who are the souls walking the earth tonight.

They are the ghosts in and around our mechanical antics,

fleshing out the reality of our lives,

while we with little regard for our own sanity,

struggle to understand just why hate needs to be a precedent

in our daily lives.

I cannot imagine the horror beyond my own intellectual

reaction

to all of the cruelty that exist outside my door,

outside yours, theirs, and wherever I walk tomorrow,

well that could be the right place again …

the wrong time doesn’t really have definition anymore.

~

Perhaps there is something to the purpose of faith

beyond expectation, beyond us, beyond me.

Rain On

We woke up to the storm,

same chilling atmosphere last night,

a carryover to our daily,

acceptance,

though there are few that do

really understand the entire picture,

except that that fits

that that allows our own delusion

to satisfy our societal angst.

~

Perhaps for some …

~

Would that we could be the otherwise,

the voice that speaks of peace

rather than the angry scowl of a predator.

Oh that we might recognize,

our blood drains as quickly as the other,

before we see it happen again,

daily in the schools, in the office,

in her home last night,

when he decided his life more important

than hers, his, hers, his, all of those living creatures,

we seem to forget about when our own selfish

lacking motivations

deride the over-bearing consience

of an ill-ridden, entitled,

ignorant people.

~

When I woke today …

~

If to believe a different day,

when everyone could again recoil

from the horrific nature of Man,

instead,

live another day to see the smile,

rather than the pale complexion

of death so easily taken in a flash

a spark of terror beyond our dreams,

~

for in dreams we awake to the soul,

the beauty and grace of what is real.

Trying to Focus on Home

There’s this thing happening,

on the streets of my neighborhood,

there isn’t a name really,

just a lot of confusion.

~

Oh some like to call it

inalienable rights,

others refer to the

strength of the NRA.

~

Whatever the cool language

of the day,

what matters more

are the continued loss of life.

~

A bullet rips through the skin,

tears through organs,

with little regard for anything

in its way, simply horrific.

~

the steel blood of a callous

action, mending little ground

beyond ripping apart the soul

of anyone nearby – loved ones.

~

I’m unable to really speak

to the fear and pain and reality

of the world I live in today,

though not much different.

~

Years ago, we could call

an isolated incident just that,

where today, we cannot predict

what might occur in the evening.

~

What might happen tomorrow,

what if the movie theater,

perhaps the mall later on,

live on local news, film at eleven.

~

Then of course there are the students …

People Killing People

(this is clearly just an example of venting without any regard to form or structure. Somehow I was tying Lennon’s death to the senseless shooting in Roanake, and intermingled recent controversy over Lennon’s past. Not quite sure where I was going yet.)

~

When I was a younger man, an impressionable lad,

I followed an icon, a singer named John,

he spoke of a need for peace, believed our only release,

meant song and love, his words cooed like a dove.

~

Now over thirty years later, we haven’t come any further,

last night two people again, with lives that’d just began,

snuffed out by another nut case, a mentally ill whacko in case

you haven’t figured it out, joined a legion of killer’s devout.

~

Over thirty years ago a man, slain by hands upon a gun

represented peace and love and forgiveness, his own demons newly address

a tormented life of abuse, he placed himself on the loose.

Yet demonized his attitude one time, canonized his life now sublime.

~

There are two stories being told in our daily lives, one first of our abused wives,

the second the hands of death by a bullet, in a world where exposed every minute,

we see the eyes of death in the hand, of the mentally ill with very little demand,

for scrutiny, or call of action, to stop the violence, to have a reaction.

~

Lennon, recently recalled as a wife beater, still in my eyes a leader,

smacked around yet later did acknowledge, his actions were no longer alleged.

He died at the hands of a shooter, by society’s terms, a mentally ill loser.

So when we pass judgment on our people, how do we define that towering steeple.

~

I suppose it doesn’t really matter as much to me that a visionary singer, was once abusive,

when across the country, a gun in the hands of a nut bag makes anything less permissive.