I am broken. On this Fourth of July, when we celebrate independence and freedom–I don’t like admitting this–but I, like our country, am broken. I don’t know if I can fix myself, let alone help right our nation. Explore recipes? Write about food and cooking? Our nation is in peril. People die in concentration camps. Our concentration camps. How do I write jaunty cooking tip posts when People Are Dying. Heck, I hardly cook anymore. How can I play with food when anger and hatred boil in my body nearly every day?
Perhaps you share similar feelings. Perhaps you, like me, find yourself too often angry–filled with bile and unreleased rage. You’ve seen the photographs.
- Devastating photographs of children, men and women warehoused in filthy cages, no space to lie down to sleep, a single toilet for a dozen, or dozens.
- The photograph of the drowned father, his wee daughter still strapped, lifeless, to his back.
- Photographs and videos of children, torn screaming from their weeping parents’ arms.
- Images of the faces of the children who died in our care, their illnesses often caused by overcrowding, poor hygiene in the cages, and insufficient food and water.
You’ve read and heard the heartbreaking stories of too many of those children, “lost” in our system, or worse, deported all alone back to life-threatening terror. Some were given away to white strangers, swiftly adopted by paying would-be parents, judges refusing to let the children return to their weeping mothers.
We, the United States of America not only kidnap and lose children. Now we traffic in them.
This is how we, the people of the the richest country on Earth, treat innocent people whose only crime is suffering and the need to flee extreme danger and poverty.
Poverty caused by us
Too often, that danger and poverty can be traced directly to decades–a century now–of US policies that favor one dictator after another who will let us ravage and poach their country for land, minerals, oil, gold.
So desperate are the thousands who approach our borders, carrying their babies and a backpack, that they leave behind home, family, loved ones and risk everything they own or care about in hopes of making it across the river and onto the promised land, where they might have a chance at scratching out a better life.
Those lucky enough to be allowed to stay and press their claims for asylum land in cages so crowded some have to sleep standing up.
Toilets overflow with stinking muck. When the sink stops running water, guards tell the thirsty to drink from the toilet. Showers. Soap. Toothpaste. Forbidden or seldom permitted.
Babies taken from their mothers, imprisoned elsewhere, are thrown in cages full of children. Little girls and teenagers, terrified, alone, missing their parents, try to care for the infants–without diapers, without adequate food.
The stench, we learn, is terrible.
How can anger and hatred not rise in the face of such evil?
Hatred fills my heart. Each day, I struggle through the ugliness to pray with conviction that love fill first my heart, then the hearts of those who cause and do so much harm.
Inevitably, my sense of righteous rage gets in the way of the prayer. Gritting my teeth, taking a deeper breath, I start again, ask the Great All, God, whatever you may wish to call this higher spiritual power in which so many of us hold faith, to please, please heal us. Heal me. Heal us all.
Fill our hearts with so much love that evil can have no more sway.
How does one love in the face of such evil as we bear witness to each day?
Oh yes, there’s more, so much more
Not only the migrants seeking refuge in our land, but we must bear witness to and oppose evil coming at us from nearly every direction.
- We must bear painful witness weekly, if not daily, to racist cops shooting unarmed men and women dead in the streets because of the color of their skin.
- We must bear witness and find a way collectively to oppose a president who would be dictator, who threatens not to leave office when his term is up, who refuses to obey the will of the law, and of Congress, who lies to the American people and to the world every single day.
- We must bear witness and find a way to oppose this president who, with his evil, greedy party wishes to take away every parachute we’ve managed to deploy and inflate for those among us who are unable, at least for a time, to feed, clothe, shelter and provide health care for themselves and their families.
- We must bear witness to and oppose every single day a party and the man they support who seeks to destroy so many of the freedoms we white, privileged folks took for granted all our lives. God knows people of color knew all along that the right to vote, and to have our votes counted, was no given. Nor was the right to speak freely, the right to investigate and print the truth in our newspapers, the right to organize and demonstrate, to make our voices heard. They knew. Now, more and more of us learn how precious those rights are, as our president and his party whittle away at them, sometimes taking what seems like a chainsaw to them, every single day. Every. Single. Day.
- We must not only bear witness, but take notice and cry out when members of this vicious party call for the imprisonment and death of members of society they do not like. For some it is Muslims. For others Jews. For others anyone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual/transgendered or no gender at all. Some call for the deaths of those born with disabilities, mental and physical. Some call for the deaths or incarceration of all of the above.
- We must not only bear witness but speak out again and again and again to protect the right of a woman to decide how and when and by whom her body will be touched and whether she will bear a child. These same people, who call for the deaths of those they despise, pretend to care about life, demanding that a woman bear any child she conceives to term, no matter her situation, no matter her self-knowing, no matter whether the child dies in the womb months before her due date–she must bear it to term, say they.
- We must bear witness to the outright refusal of this party and its oil-baron puppeteers to acknowledge, let alone take immediate, decisive action in the face of the climate emergency that imperils all sentient life on the planet, our collective home. We have reached the tipping point. Now, it’s a matter of survival, and not a pretty survival. What have we done to our children? What hope have our grandchildren?
Evil rises each day. I fight the anger. I fight the bile. I pray for love. Can evil be transformed to good through love? I once thought it possible.
But I am broken. I don’t know how to fix me or any of this.
How to fix the broken spirit?
How to find enough love to begin the healing? I don’t want to be this person. I want to be again a person who believes in the power of love, a person who transcends rage, who refuses to hate.
I must find a way to take positive, life-affirming action that heals—action that heals both my soul and, hopefully, some small part of the soul of the world.
In the last two and a half years, I’ve grown worse, not better. I swear in public now. I let the bile show. I’m not alone in that. Somehow, I–we–must find the will to mend, to heal. To take action that has some impact in righting the wrongs.
What about you? How are you weathering the daily storms? I am open to discussion. Spare me platitudes and religious tropes. The discussion I seek is gritty what-we-can-do-to-fix-this-mess-and-heal-ourselves.
Heal ourselves. Heal our country. Go.