Last night I watched a video of Barak Obama’s speech regarding the mass killings in Oregon. He was visibly upset about having to do this once again. He talked about how sadly routine it had become and that what we have done in response to these repeated incidents is not enough. He called out the illogical argument that continues to be used to keep guns wildly accessible in our country. It was a brave and moving speech.
Then I came across a video from Playing for Change. This group makes the most endearing videos — taking well loved songs and having them performed by people from all over the world. When I listened to the video and thought about the words, I felt a deep connection back to what President Obama had spoken of so poignantly — we have a responsibility to each other, the “body politic” he called it. We are not doing nearly enough to stand strong for those who need to lean on us.
Obama said that some people tell him “not to politicize the tragedy.” One of the things I learned from the feminist movement, and I read over and over again in Ms. magazine when I was a subscriber, is that the personal is political. I could not understand that concept very well when I was in my 20’s. I never really understood what Gloria Steinem was trying to say. But I have come to understand that everything personal to us has a political component. It matters in the larger scheme of things. How we think of ourselves and how we think of others does matter to us all. It has political implications. How we treat others, or support them or, on the other side of it, commit violence against them, directly or indirectly, does matter politically. It will be a energy that grows.
I sense a movement to a kinder, gentler America (as one politician said many years ago); at the same time, there is entropy and fear-mongering and hate alive and well. This duality will always be there on some level. Yet, I for one would like to see the love in our hearts grow, and see that love extended into the political spectrum. Real love has no limits. We are not lacking in any of the resources we need; it is simply about the will to do better. I believe in the President’s plea. We can do better. We need to collectively quit acting like we can’t. We need to stop buying non-arguments.
We never know when tragedy will strike again. It is in our best interest to learn how to lean on others with faith and hope and love; this is our work in the world. When we commit fully to each other, then we will understand the gift back to us is having someone there when we “need somebody to lean on.”