Last night I pulled an all-nighter.
As a kid that meant I stayed up all night studying…
As a teen that meant I stayed up all night partying…
Oh, how I miss those days… that innocence and naiveté.
Last night, that meant I stayed up all night watching a horror unfold.
How the world has changed.When I was a kid the worst thing I had to worry about was getting beaten up after school… and I did a few times. But now I seem to be leaving a world for my daughter where the worst thing she has to worry about is being gunned down or driven over or stabbed.
The Borderline is ten minutes from my house… It is a bar I have been in. I saw my friend Becca sing there. I saw my cousin Jordan play there. Every time I have been there, it was filled with music. And yes, I will admit, I was a bit judgey on the whole line dancing thing… probably because I can’t dance, but still… the place was filled with music… and now the music has stopped…
That seems like so long ago… All that joy and innocence lost… destroyed.
Where I have been is now a hell.
Where I have shopped is now a staging area… and last night was a triage area. The insane irony that the parking lot of a CVS and Vitamin Shoppe… a place we go to get better and healthy… is now a place to bring victims to…
I am not numb, I am broken.
What have we become?I can’t say I woke up to the news… I never slept. My head is still pounding and swimming. I am shocked I still have tears left to cry. Between the interview last night with a father who was inside and crying because he did not think he did enough, to a father who talked about how his daughter did what she was “trained to do,” and then to a father who just found out he lost his son. I will never, ever forget any of it. I am so lost.
We should be “training” our kids to run and play, not hide and shelter in place. This should not be our reality… this should not be their reality. They should be learning literature and math, and doing drills in gym class, not active shooter drills.I am heartbroken, devastated… I feel lost and nothing but a heaving mass of tears. To admit this is often looked down upon as being weak. I know I am an extra sensitive person. Technically, I have been diagnosed as an ESP. I take things personally and am deeply affected by the outside world. I cry while watching the news. I am crying now as the procession for Sgt. Ron Helus moves down the 101… the freeway I am on almost every single day.I cry thinking that the Thousand Oaks Teen Center is now a “Reunification” Center… another bitter irony. Teens should be going there for fun and escape, not for this… not for this…
But this is my truth. This is who I am. This is the essence of my soul. And through this post I share that, I communicate that, without fear, but with need. We all need to be heard… we all need to listen.
With Pittsburgh it was my community, my Jewish community, but it felt so far away. And sadly, we have become a bit numb to the hate and the violence. We cannot tolerate and accept the bad behavior, the hate and the rhetoric, the destruction of values and norms. We need to get back to loving kindness. We need to return to who we are… souls in bodies… souls…
Look at what “one” hate can do… what “one” gun can do… But then turn it around… look at what “one” love can do… “one” light can do…
The issue is muddy, but clear.
We live in a world where stress and anger and hate are real. There is too much of it.
Stop the hate.
We live in a world where mental health issues are real. There is too much of it.
Stop the pain and suffering
We live in a world where people do not know how to stop their anger, and so instead stop others. There is too much of it. Stop the violence.
And yes, there are also too many guns, too easily gotten.
And yes, even with stricter laws, people will find work arounds, but still… can’t we at least try? Can’t we at least sit down and talk and bring both sides together?
There has to be a calm, rational way to figure this all out. There has to be a solution or at the very least an improvement. This cannot be normalized.
And yes, if a person cannot get a gun, they will find other ways to carry out their anger and hate… with a knife, a car or even a kite. I get it, I do.
So what do we do?
We cannot ignore or stigmatize these mental health issues. We need to deal with them head on. They are real and deep and clearly can wreak physical havoc, on ourselves and on others.If you are suffering, speak out and ask for help. Speak up, speak up, speak up…
If you feel lost and afraid, speak up… to a Rabbi or Priest… to a doctor or friend.
And when someone opens up to you, do not shame them, embrace them. Do not condemn them. Fear keeps too many silent. Society judges us too harshly for being open and honest, broken and weak.
But do not stay silent. If you are seeing dangerous behavior, speak up. Speak up, speak up, speak up…
People are not disposable. We cannot allow men and women to serve our country and then not serve them back. We owe them our literal lives, so when they are out of the service, they are not “out of service. “Their value does not and must not diminish.
We cannot allow young men to play a sport, and then ignore them when their bodies fail and their brains are injured. We cannot toss them aside, when their “value” is gone.
I say this because we seem to live in a disposable society, where it is always “what can you do for me,” and not “what can I do for others?” The value of a human being is in who we are and what we give to the world. That is best measured in our relationships and in love, not in money or stature. It should be based on how much we give of ourselves and for others.
Human beings can be kind and compassionate, loving and supportive. Let us never lose this. Let us never forget. In a darkened haze of bullets and smoke, people placed their bodies in front of others. Broke windows and stayed behind until others had escaped. In a darkened night, people rushed to the scene with whatever light they could shed.
Last night the music stopped. And from time to time, we need to be quiet… to pause and ponder… to look into ourselves and our souls, and sit with the quiet.
We are taught that a funeral, at a Shiva call, it is best to say little… to allow those in mourning to approach us… to speak only if they want to.
We can simply say, “I am sorry.” “May their memory always be a blessing.”
And for a while, hopefully a short while, there will be quiet… there will be silence… and later, the music will return.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says it so clearly: “There are three ascending levels of mourning: with tears — that is the lowest. With silence — that is higher. And with a song — that is the highest.”
Thoughts and prayers are essential… Do not ever diminish the power of thoughts and prayers… it is a part of who we are as human beings and souls, even for those who are not religious, it is part of being human… We feel, we express, we connect… We express condolences and love, support and kindness.
But then there needs to be something else… there needs to be speech and action, or else the lives lost will have been in vain. Allow those who are suffering to have their space. Allow them to have their tears and their silence… and then let us speak, let us all speak, for in order for us to sing again, we have to open our mouths.
Fix the mental health issues.
Fix the levels of stress and anger.
Let people know that help is out there… and GIVE THEM HELP… DO NOT SHUN THEM OR TURN THEM AWAY!!!
And then fix the gun issue… and it is an issue.
Nothing will get done until we start. Nothing will get done without respect and compromise. Nothing will get done if we do not approach this holistically.
Last night, yet again, the music stopped. Let us make sure it is only for a short while. The world needs music and light, now more than ever. Let us come together, stand shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, heart to heart, soul to soul… for something other than this. Let the band play, let the chorus sing, not mourn.