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During this morning’s run, I was talking with my friend about the fear and frustration we’d both been feeling about St. Louis, among other places. What can we do? we asked each other. If it came down to it, would we be able to stand against the ‘authorities’ armed with tear gas, guns, and hoses?
I told my friend about the only time I’d come close to anything like that. My college friends may remember: The KKK was marching in a little town a few miles away, and we organized ourselves in protest. We brought in advisors to teach us how to remain calm in the crisis. We were afraid, but not responding wasn’t an option to us then. We boarded the bus in silence and when we got there, we linked arms and lined the street quietly, waiting for the hate group to come streaming up the road. We were surprised to find a pathetic bunch of ragtag malcontents—the odd skinhead, the old guys and bored teen goths sprinkled in—all spewing tired epithets we’d heard before: “____ go home… .”
After the march, back to campus we went.
Once safely returned to familiar surroundings, we’d talk about how sad they looked. Their outfits didn’t even match. we’d laugh. They weren’t even marching in step together!
But this morning, we weren’t laughing.
Every time events like these go down, I wonder what there is to do about it. Up to this point, I’ve signed petitions, I’ve written posts and articles, made calls, protested, volunteered, minded my business, went back to bed, wrung my hands, pumped my fists, prayed, held my loved ones close, sent letters, fundraised, danced, run, sung, sweated, cried, fretted, and did it all again. Just like now.
I wish I could tell you of the tremendous love and worry I feel for my brothers, for my beautiful nephews, especially, and for the precious children of my friends.
Today, I’m open to new ideas—to whatever will help me keep my heart open and my love alive.
Here’s a great suggestion in the form of a poem titled Here’s what to do during war. It comes from the poet activist Maxine Hong-Kingston. She writes:
Children, everybody, here’s what to do during war: In a time of destruction, create something. A poem. A parade. A community. A school. A vow. A moral principle.
One peaceful moment.
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