My great grandmother Anna was part of a Lithuanian family that sent her on a boat to America when she was a teenager. She said goodbye to her mother, knowing full well that they would never see each other again. Those circumstances were very hard. But she and her family chose to rise to the difficult occasion, get courageous, and move forward.
My great great Aunt Doll had a son named Buddy Ollman; he left home as a very young man and went to fight in World War II. His airplane was shot down in France, and his body was discovered in the garden of a family who lived in the countryside. I shutter to think about the final seconds of his young life, and of how Aunt Doll must have felt on receiving the news. But Aunt Doll went on, got courageous, and triumphed over what must have been the most painful kind of grief a person can know.
It would be easy to say, “People used to be more courageous.” But obviously that’s not the case. Courage is developed when a person has to respond to hardship. So perhaps it makes more sense to say, “Times used to be harder back then.”
But that’s also not the case. Glance at our world. People in the Middle East are being bombed and starved by the Islamic State every day. People are dying daily of terrible viruses in South America and Africa. And in the United States this month, 49 people were executed in a nightclub, and a few weeks later, there were back-to-back executions of black men by police, followed by an execution of police officers by a black man.
Times are just as hard as they used to be, if not harder.
So the question is: how will we respond? Will we rise to this difficult occasion and attain the level of courage that I so admire in my ancestors? Or will we turn a blind eye?
If you live in the U.S. right now, please get courageous with me, Reader. Not by going to war or by leaving our loved ones; these aren’t our hardships anymore. Let’s get courageous by peacefully combating the anger in our world. Because it really does require a tireless fight to get through these hard times. If you’re White, reach out to Blacks. If you’re Straight, reach out to Gays. If you’re Christian, reach out to Muslims. And if you’re a racist, that’s ok: just own it, and start a new dialogue so you can move through it. Truly, we have to lose the “us and them” mentality and start trusting each other again. If you see somebody else as part of “them,” then earn their trust through your words and actions until we’re all just “us.”
I’m so deeply crushed by what’s happening in our country, and I simply can’t reflect on anything else this week besides the need to work HARD to make changes. Cliché as it is to say, when one person is hurt, it hurts us all. For all those who lost their lives this week, I’m hurting.
With that, I’m going to bed. I hugged my son extra hard tonight. Push back against the hate, Reader. See you next Sunday -Em