“hope is a thing with feathers—”
I sit in New Mexico, feeding my soul with mountains, desert, and expansive skies that express themselves in a different language nearly every hour of the day. Today, those skies are speaking of darkness. They are rumbling in anger and can’t hold back their tears. They speak to me of what is happening in our country, right now.
I just received a text from my mother. They’re rioting and looting here, she tells me. Stores are shutting their doors, hoping to keep the violence from visiting their premises. And black people are out there begging the rioters to stop. I understand the anger over this situation. I really do. I understand, as well, that I’ll never know what it is like to be black in America.
We live in a country where it has become okay to hate the “other.” We live in a country where the conditions for people with non-white skin have resulted in proportionately more job losses and deaths from the coronavirus. And, then, an unarmed black man loses his life at the hands of a white officer, in an abhorrent manner. Again. It was the spark that lit the tinder.
So many people are (rightfully) angry and saddened by an event that has become too common in the U.S. Others are angry because they’ve lost loved ones, jobs, security. Most people are out there in peace, demonstrating solidarity. Others have found an excuse and an outlet for their pain and pent-up anger. This is a tough time in our world.
Now is a time when we should all be coming together, instead, it seems the hole in the fabric of our world is getting bigger.
My stepdad is a retired police officer. He is also a good man. As are so many who take the oath to protect and serve. But the ugly face of racism can wear a peacekeeper’s uniform just as easily as any other. And, when racism holds positions of power, it feels righteous in its actions. Justified in its beliefs.
Peaceful protest is a right, and violence is never right in a peaceful protest. It’s sad to me that there are those who would take advantage of a horrible event such as this to do the kind of damage seen in a growing number of cities across the country, turning peaceful protests violent and dishonoring George Floyd in the process.
And it gives people the idea that the crowd that gathered to protest and grieve engaged in the same acts as those who came to destroy.
I came out here looking for the good in our world. It still does exist. Even now.
It exists in all of you who care that a man lost his life because of the color of his skin.
It exists in all of the people who are helping neighbors in need during this pandemic.
It exists in the words of encouragement given to those on the frontline who are relentlessly doing the hard work of trying to save lives.
It exists in donations of food to those who can’t afford it because they lost their jobs.
It exists in everyone who took this opportunity to rescue an animal.
It exists in all of you who stay home, mask up, stand six feet apart, all in the name of saving lives.
It exists in the hope that somehow, we come out of all of this better people. This virus is showing us where we need to do better.
It exists in those of you who dare to hope, and to love, at a time when the world as we know it is changing before our eyes. When darkness perhaps covers all that you had previously taken comfort in. It is now when we need hope the most., and acts of courage, gestures of kindness.
“Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.”