This is too bloody to be peace. Every week, nearly every day, this does not feel like peace. And yet, if this is war, who is the enemy? We all seem to be searching, and many of us claim to have found that enemy—but our claims don’t agree.
We say the enemy is Isis, and yet so many of these killings are committed by our own people. We say the enemy is Muslims, and yet Muslims are dying with everyone else. We say the enemy is the police, and yet the police are dying. And black people are dying. And LGBTQ+ people are dying, and poor people are dying, and immigrants are dying, and women are dying, and we are all dying, but the marginalized among us bear the greatest weight of it.
And they bear our hate, and they bear the full weight of that.
To have an enemy would be easier. If only we could say, and have it be true, that we just need to take our country back, and make it great again, and keep the villains out, and keep the government in check. Or perhaps we need to keep the guns locked up, and keep the corporations in check, and keep the chemicals out, and keep the freedom in, and give lip service (but not enough actual service) to all the marginalized people who are dying. Those fantasies would be so much easier.
This feels like a war, but the enemies we claim are not nearly enough. They are the violent thrashing of a zeitgeist under threat that must lash out and lay blame lest the pain grow too great.
The truth, I think, is that this is a war with ourselves, and there are no enemies—only casualties. It is a war between our aspirations and our mistakes, in which we decide who we ought to be.
Will we empower our ideals? Will we turn pain into progress towards equity and justice?
Or will we cast blame and judgment and make the same mistakes over again? Will we empower hate and anger instead, and claim it as righteousness?
The sorrow always seems to become an exhortation to kill them in return (if only we could figure out who “they” are).
This feels like war, and this feels like losing.
Photo Credit: Lauren Marino