It was cliche, really. I was sitting on the most beautiful beach, in the most perfect sunshine, toes in the sand. It was one of those I live where people vacation moments us San Diegians have to struggle through every now and then. I had just gotten coffee with, and was now sitting next to, one of my best friends. Twelve hours earlier I was on a date with a cute boy. Um, hi, perfect weekend.
I sat there, and couldn’t shake the news of Philando Castile ruling that filled my Twitter feed that morning. The Cosby mistrial. The – let’s be honest – shit show that is America’s government at the moment. I sat trying to come to terms with these two extremes: my seemingly perfect life and the heart breaking world we live in. I don’t know whether to mourn or be furious. I don’t know whether to start the charge or throw up my hands in defeat. I don’t know how to make sense of it.
Justice seems like something so far out of our grasp. Peace feels like a pipe dream.
Sunday I went to the USS Midway museum with my parents for Father’s Day. A huge museum, which I only saw part of, yet I didn’t see a single female in a display, didn’t read about a single woman. Normally, this wouldn’t have bothered me. I would have taken it as normal – that’s just the era, that’s just the time period. But thanks to Hidden Figures, I know there were women at those desks. I know there were women working on those problems. More importantly, I know there were women figuring out the solutions.
Now, I know there were women conveniently left out of history. I don’t know what to do with that.
I’m a middle class white American. If I feel slighted by history, if I feel left out of too many history books, I can’t imagine what others must feel. What others must see. My heart mourns for all the faces left out of the iconic pictures, but mourns even more for all the faces growing up in a world where they don’t see a face like their own in history. Not because it wasn’t there, not because people like them – like me! – weren’t a part of it, but because they were left out of the stories we tell.
Sunday night I found myself, for some strange reason, watching Notting Hill. On good ol’ VHS. A recorded-from-TV VHS. My parents brought over some things from my old room, including a few VHSes. My grandpa’s handwriting on a peeling label drew me to it. What a perfect ending to a strange weekending, right?
3 minutes in to the grainy recording – 2 minutes after I remembered recording things off TV meant lovely commercial breaks – I realized Notting Hill is probably on Netflix. I could easily switch my TV’s input over and stream a clear picture, commercial free, with better sound quality. Instead I sat there, forwarding through commercials from the early 2000s every 15 minutes or so. It was comforting, in a weird sense. To remember what life used to be like. Crapy recordings. Crappy commercials. Good dialogue. Good stories.
Sometimes I wonder if our land of constant streaming has ruined us.We have the world at our fingertips. We also have the world’s pain. What do we do with that?
I don’t know what to do with this world we find ourselves in. The news breaks my heart everyday. I can’t bring myself to read more details about Nabra or watching the newly released dash cams from Philando’s shooting.
I then hate myself for not watching, not reading, not entering into the pain and discomfort because it’s easier to stay in my safe little bubble of the world. In my perfect happiness, it’s easier to pile on another blanket and watch another rom-com. Why open Twitter, why enter the pain, when you can take a nap?
Is it self-care or privilege – getting to sit this one out?
What needs to change? To hold an officer accountable for shooting someone at a traffic stop. To have laws against sexual abuse that actually side with the victim. To protect 17 year old girls walking home from church. To ensure a woman calling for help doesn’t end up dead by the hands of the police. To give credit where credit is due, even if it’s credit earned by a female.
What do we have to do to make this world a better place? Because if I’m being honest it sometimes feels like an uphill battle that I don’t have the energy to fight anymore. A loosing battle that I’m sick of investing in.
I don’t know how to fix these problems. I don’t know how to change the world. I only know that I want to.
Do you ever think about Syria?
It hits me at the strangest times – when I’m brushing my teeth in my own bathroom, prepping lunch in my giant kitchen with my own food, about to drive to a job that pays me good money in my own car – that there are thousands of people on the other side of the world who must hate me. Who must not be able to fathom how someone could go on living normal life when they know about the displaced, the refugees, the homeland-less. I would hate a world ignoring my pain.
I sometimes wonder if this is the beginning. The beginning of people saying “enough is enough” and let’s change these laws, let’s change these rulings, lets’ change the way the system works. Let’s change this and change that and oh, this over here needs changing, too. I wonder if our generation, our era, will be a new revolution. I wonder if I’ll get to be part of that.
I sometimes wonder if this is the beginning of the end. So much hurt, so much pain, so much polarization. Does it only get worse from here on out? Do we continue choosing hate?
How do we move forward? How do we change anything?
I feel like Julia Robert’s character in Notting Hill when she discovers a bench that speaks, to her, of a life she didn’t know was possible: “I guess some people do spend their whole lives together.”
I’m looking for a bench, a sign, anything that will remind me justice will come. Change is possible. Peace will find a way. Love truly wins.