Nos cœurs sont avec vous.

It’s important to note that I do not speak French, but I took the title from someone I believe does (and I Googled it to make sure it was right) but if it *isn’t* correct, someone let me know? I don’t want to be offensive.

I had to look up Bastille Day, because I didn’t really know what it was. Turns out, it’s an important celebration because of the French Revolution. So I can understand why there were loads of people out today in France. I mean, in my city, during July 4th, there’s a little thing we call Red, White and Boom which draws half a million or so people-all for an independence celebration. And yet, it wouldn’t have even passed my radar, had not one vile thing occurred.

Just a month ago, I was writing the words about pain and sadness and frustration because someone felt the need to attack a group of citizens. A few months before that I spoke of how my heart hurt for Paris, and how love would conquer hate. And here we are once more. Seventy-seven people lost their lives today while they were celebrating freedom in their country and I am sure that more people were wounded. The truck which plowed into people was fully armed, all the way to explosives and grenades.

How do you tell people that you’re certain that the will of the many will outweigh the actions of the few? I grappled with that for a while after Pulse. How do you preach words of love and acceptance while friends and family members vanish instantly from your life? What can be said to heal people who just wanted to enjoy time with their families?

Nothing.

No words can be said to spare the pain, or ease it.

I remember just a couple years ago, I was at the funeral of a childhood friend who had died by suicide. I remember feeling so shaken because I couldn’t find the words which accurately described just how I felt, or to remove the weight and pain from my heart. And I looked at his family and realized that I couldn’t say anything-because words didn’t fix anything.

Words will do nothing so long as that is all they are. Well-wishes can only touch the surface of the pain and sadness which are and will be. It is only when they are followed by actions-by the continued efforts to value and protect life that words mean anything at all.

You see, it doesn’t matter if you spend all day speaking words of love and peace if that is all you do. You must live the life you speak of. You must live it in every action. And even then, the reality is-it just might not be enough.

I know this all sounds a little bleak. I find that each time something of this nature comes across my news, I am both disgusted by it and empassioned by it. We are all suffering. Each and every one of us. And we have to help each other.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -The Once-ler.

Fix You

There’s a gaping hole of hatred and bigotry in the world. Not too many people are safe these days. Muslim places of worship are attacked just the same as Christian places of worship. Booming cities in Europe and America are attacked just the same as cities in the Middle East. SAGA (sexuality and gender acceptance) individuals are gunned down just the same as people of color. Death, injustice, hatred, persecution. It fills the news, it divides, it destroys.

There are people who spew anger so fiercely that it is as a volcano, the devastation follows wherever they go. They speak of things they do not understand, promoting actions which will do nothing more than hurt people, damage humanity and suffocate the truth values of being human. They rile the masses, using catch phrases and soundbites to make their claims validated, evoking the misplaced anger many feel but do not know where to direct.

The thing about evil is that it will continue to spread if good people stand idly by. It isn’t the failed attempts which bring death-it is the lack of trying altogether.

There are people who sit in their pews, their prayer rooms, their offices and homes uttering phrases like “my heart goes out to you” and “I’ll pray for you” and “a moment of silence”. But when that is all that happens, nothing changes. Evil does not need riots and violence-it needs apathy. Prayers and thoughts and well-wishes cannot be the only thing that happens. It will change nothing. It doesn’t matter who hears you or how powerful they are. If you stand by with your thoughts, you are giving the terrible injustices of the world your permission to carry on.

I invite you all to take a chance. Go out and do something. You don’t have to conquer the world. You don’t even need to fix every problem. But each small action is a stance against what is wrong. And that is the real meaning of life.

My Letter to the Stanford Victim

Hi there,

I know we don’t know each other, and we may never meet, but I love you. I don’t mean that in the creepy way, but in the way with which I openly love my closest friends, my dearest family and with all the respect I can have for a person. Your struggle has been highly publicized, your words have been spoken with great emotion and while you fight to exist each day, I want you to know that I support you.

While my own efforts are small compared to the bravery and strength you have shown over the past year or so, I want you to know that I signed the petition to recall the judge from your case. No one, man or woman, should be forced to endure the tragedy of sexual assault, go through the system fearlessly and then come out the other end feeling violated by both the perpetrator and the system which is in place to protect and defend.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that your time with your sister will be forever blotted out by the devastation which came from an entitled child with no moral compass-who took your time, your privacy and the intimate parts of you and laid them bare for the world to scrutinize. I’m sorry that his academic merits and athleticism seem to be all anyone focuses on, and that while his lawyers tried to pry into your past, none of them looked into your future-like they did with him.

I listened to the reading of your statement, and I remember coming across the line: “You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.” And my heart broke for you. Because no one deserves to be made to feel worthless by the actions of someone else. I don’t know you at all, I’ve never seen you, I’ve never heard your voice, and yet I know that you are a beautiful person. You are so much more than this situation would impress upon you, so much more than a six-month verdict and I’m glad that the jury thought so too.

I hope that you find some peace, hope and a little rest. No matter what anyone else labels you, I think you’re a true heroine. You keep fighting, even when it gets tough and you don’t give up. That makes you the most courageous person I can think of. I hope you find great joy in the small moments in life, and that you get to meet those bicyclists who became your first line of defense.

All my admiration,

A 23 Year Old Woman

It’s Not Enough

I woke up this morning expecting the news of the day to be pretty standard: celebrity gossip, political drama and some updates about some orders I placed. What I did not expect to see was violence and death. It breaks my heart each time someone has let anger twist their thoughts and hearts to the point of lashing out against someone else. Here in the states there have been muggings, violent deaths (caused by Islamaphobia) and more awful things within the last month or so. 

People have been murdered for being different and suddenly I don’t see where assumption stops and reality begins. It’s so easy to disassociate from other countries which are not your own simply for the fact that they seem so distant. We come to associate certain countries with generalizations like “good” and “bad”, “peaceful” and “hateful”. We come to see places as desolate war-torn wastelands instead of places where people are suffering at the hands of a few tyrannical radicals. It’s easy to brush aside the dangers of war, the tragedies across the sea with a simple “Wow, that’s really sad. I hope that doesn’t happen anywhere else.” 

  

But what you’re really saying is: I hope that doesn’t happen to me. To my loved ones. To my commute home, my vacation plans, my place of work. What you’re really saying is that you aren’t part of the problem, so you can’t really be part of the solution. You’re a good person, you say. You care about others.

But that isn’t enough.

                                            

If one person is loud enough, with their anger, their hatred, then their actions need to be met with one thousand times the response in love. If one person can take away lives in the blink of an eye, then one hundred times more people must save a life. 

In the news today, there was much talk of Belgium and Brussels. Bombings. Pain and death. But where was the same coverage, the same source of mourning globally for Turkey, who just a few days prior had a bombing as well? We become so convinced that there are bad countries filled with bad people that we forget that they are just the same as you and I: countries full of people who suffer, who mourn, who are unfairly generalized and stereotyped because of a few people who don’t even represent the majority.

It’s important to feel outraged. To feel angry at the actions of someone who felt the need to puncture a hole in the lives of millions.

But that isn’t enough.

                                                                

If one person is forceful enough to take an entire country by storm, forcing them into masses of fear and xenophobia, millions more must open their arms and deny their biases. If one person is able to take their own lives in such a manner that innocent bystanders have no choice but to also end, then everyone who is left behind must find it in themselves to stand up for the future, to fight hatred with hope, to battle fear with peace. Hitting the “like” button, the “retweet” button or even the “reblog” button isn’t enough. Those things were never meant to replace the caring, face-to-face actions of things like donating blood, donating food, working in a food pantry, volunteering to teach English as a second language, offering to share your culture with others and have them share back. Technology was supposed to bring people together.

But that isn’t enough.