I don’t watch the news. Ever. It’s too negative, upsetting, fear-filled and depressing. Occasionally I see a clip that someone has posted to Facebook. But never a full broadcast.
That doesn’t mean I’m out of touch, at least not completely. I get some local news on the radio. And, of course, the big events I hear about on Facebook. Especially when there is a series of horrifying events all in a short time span.
You see, I have a lot of friends who are social activists. I’m grateful, honestly. I learn a lot from them, especially about how to be more sensitive to other people’s experiences.
With the recent killings in the US – the Pulse Nightclub, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and police officers in Dallas (and that doesn’t even scratch the surface of atrocities going on in other parts of the world) – the activists on my list are very busy and very vocal. And I’m glad. Because too many times in the past people have been murdered unjustly. Because they happened to be born with more melanin in their skin. Or because they loved someone of the same gender.
By the luck of the draw, or fate, or who knows why, I happened to be born a pale-skinned female heterosexual. I’m not at the very top of the privilege food chain, but I’m pretty darn close. The only ones who outrank me are white heterosexual males in general, and white heterosexual males and females who were born to wealthy families.
I was painfully aware of my privilege this week when I was stopped at a road check. After answering only a couple of questions, I was on my way, with very little hassle. I couldn’t help but wonder how differently that experience might have been if I had been born Black, or, in my area, Native American. Would I have been allowed through as easily? Or would I have been pulled over and questioned more thoroughly? Or abusively?
It’s unfortunate that we need movements like Black Lives Matter and Pride Festivals. It would be so wonderful if we were all loved and loving, accepted and accepting, empowered and empowering. That’s not the case. Gender, race, sexuality and religious beliefs still divide us, and some still think there is a “better than”.
Events such as these hurt my heart. It is hard to observe the hate and fear and violence that so many still live with on a daily, hourly basis. It is even harder to put myself in the shoes of someone who lives in constant fear of being injured or killed because of the things that make them individuals. The pain is overwhelming.
We can’t let the pain stop us, though. At times like this, it is even MORE important to find beauty and good in the world. Not to escape from the pain, in spite of the pain. Because beauty and good are what will keep us going. Finding the beauty and finding the good help us to heal.
This weekend I volunteered at Vancouver Island Music Fest. I saw people pay it forward to strangers, by gifting their unused ticket to the next person who came to buy one, without having any idea who that person might be. I received kindness from a couple who had extra chairs, and let me use one instead of sitting on the ground. I experienced beauty in listening to music performed by people who are both talented and skilled.
Did the music make the pain go away? Not entirely. But it helped me experience beauty and kindness and good, and that fills my heart.