{to my tallest little brother}

Ducking social media through July and August doesn’t mean I’ve missed anything, it’s just that I’ve largely held my silence. I would have still, but a young friend reached out to me. He grew up in LA, and is of Mexican American descent, and felt like he shouldn’t speak up right now, as a brown person… but he wrote, nervously, to extend his sympathies to me, as a fellow human being. Which kind of broke my heart. So shines a good deed in a weary world, as the Bard would say. So. I wrote him a note:

Mi hermanito precioso,

I often think that it would be useful to belong to a denomination which follows a liturgy. Because waking up to a news cycle like this has me simply saying over and over again, “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy,” like the words of an abruptly simplified mass spinning out into infinity.

Lord, have mercy. What a mess.

Like a faulty foundation will topple an entire building before its time, the foundational flaw in in our system of laws – that of the 2nd Amendment is not really for all people, only white people – is reverberating throughout the nation. There are cracks in the foundation, the floor is collapsing, and we are sinking down, down, down.

I struggle to articulate how long it took me to look at this head on; it was so much easier to just agree, “Oh, yeah, all lives matter.” As time went on, though, it grew harder to remain silent, as those who complained most loudly about the Black Lives Matter movement seem to believe those protesting police violence put an invisible “only” in front of the words: as if they mean “ONLY black lives matter.” A people clearly receiving a message from a largely indifferent culture that no, your lives don’t matter don’t need salt rubbed into the wound with a tsk-tsking and finger shaking about being more inclusive. As I’ve tried to explain it to more than one person, if you had lung cancer, you would be about treating your lungs, not ignoring the lungs in favor of the elbows, under the lofty idea that “all body parts matter.” You’d be treating the lungs, if the lungs were where the problem was, would you not? It’s about focus, not exclusion. But few people make the effort to understand this — because we are a people who rely on all caps and incoherence. We favor a rush to response rather than slow reason.

Lord, have mercy. We are such a mess.

Know what else is in my liturgy? Those who live by the sword will die by it.

I believe this is so, so true. In every way. I know that there are nations and states who have open carry, but you know how I feel about guns, and the machismo that goes with them. If people don’t respect me and my words, they’ll never respect that I have lethal force, until I use it. If people can’t respect the badge – and they can’t, legitimately, in many instances – then they’re only allowed to fear the lethal force it employs. If I give in to the urge to slice and dice instead of think, even verbally, I, too, will bleed.

We – and by this “we” I mean the law enforcement and the legal system and the larger society – have to become aware that all of us bleed and to become aware that indifference to the blood of our brothers and sisters will assure that we bleed out, too.

MLK and Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X — every one of them spoke of the need to come together and support social justice for each other, as black and brown and white. Our outrage may be what brings us to stand shoulder to shoulder, but our need to staunch the wounds is what will have to keep us standing, long after this immediate disaster is over. It has just happened too many times before – too many times before Trayvon Martin, even – that we’ve all rallied and said all the right things, and then let the momentum of peace and justice for all fade. It’s easy to be distracted by the next thing. But, my biggest prayer is that we learn to pay attention. This has to stop.

Or the endless litany of pleas and tears is basically por nada.

Love you back,


PS – And, I have no idea what you’re intimidated about. This stuff is hard to write through, hard to think about. What is it with you people thinking writers judge you like they’re your English teacher?????? I’d NEVER do that!! *cough*

May you find a moment in which you extend peace to your fellow human being, and have it mirrored back to you.

2 Replies to “{to my tallest little brother}”

  1. Beautifully stated. You echo the only sane words I’ve read this week~a man wrote that if you went to the doctor with a broken arm, you don’t need to hear “All Bones Matter”. All that matters is fixing the broken bone.

    Encouraged by the civil and awkward conversations that are happening~may they continue. And may they grow into continued & steady peaceful actions.

    1. Appreciate that — this is an insanely complicated topic, and this is a fairly simplistic response, but my wee tall brother was struggling, I think, with trying to say ANYTHING coherent, and he simply wanted to express that he’s trying to be an ally and stand in solidarity. The protests and being out and public with an opinion seems really big to a lot of people — mainly extroverts. It’s harder for me, who is so opinionated, but I’d rather be happy than right, so I won’t say much if someone with a bigger mouth feels they need to hold court — up to a point, anyway. And then I’ve been known to speak up, when pushed to the edge of my patience.

      This weekend at church, there was a SUPER awkward moment when our very white pastor said, “Okay, we need to talk about this,” but then, even though it was awkward, it moved toward clarity, and then a painful sort of grace, and I thought, “Yeah. This.” Awkward as hell, but necessary, even and especially with people of faith.

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