On the Subject of Paris

I know the last thing anyone needs is some white American’s two cents on the issue, so I will try to make this as gentle and short as I can, out of compassion for those suffering.

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts telling people not to pray because faith is what caused this problem to start with, and there are more important ways to render aid.  I agree that prayer should be where we start giving aid, not where we end. But faith is not the problem.

Skin color is not the problem, either. To blame religion and skin color is to simplify something very ugly, to give yourself a sense of security. It’s the same as covering yourself in a blanket to hide from monsters in the dark. It’s to say, “If I avoid belief, and brown people, and immigrants, I will be safe.”

The truth is that hatred is to blame. Hatred, and the perpetrators of these atrocities. And hatred is widespread. You can’t look in someone’s heart and see hatred plainly, which makes it utterly insidious. You can’t filter out hatred or pick it out of a person the way you’d pick out gold when you’re panning a river. You can’t categorize hateful from loving the way you’d categorize differently colored beads. Hate is not visible, and hate breeds more of the same. Hate is frightening that way.

Yes, it’s easier to assign blame to physical traits or religious ideologies. But easier does not mean correct.

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On the Occasion of Your Next Camping Trip

Dear Myself,

You cannot sleep on the floor.  You think you can, but you can’t. Your joints are literally made of garbage, rusty straight pins, and spent elastic.  You are a broken toy. On the x-ray, the smooth curve of your hip looks like a mountain range.  Your spine is a spiral, a DNA helix.

You will feel like a child.  Your backpacker’s heart will feel like you’re giving up to bring a cot, but if you would not ask an elderly friend to do it, you shouldn’t do it either. I know that you won’t hold back from most things, but do refrain from sleeping on the ground.  I am telling you from the future and the past, you will walk in a shuffle for days afterwards. You will not want to lift your feet off of the ground. You will want to sink into the couch and become a cushion. You will lean your head back and only move your eyes, like a chameleon.

The pain lives inside you like an animal. Curls in your knees.  Gnaws at the back of your neck. Sharpens its claws in the ball-and-socket of your hips.  Don’t make things easy for it.

Trepidatiously, and with a reluctance to move,

Yourself