No Weapon Formed Against Me
Why I Will Never Live in Fear and You Shouldn’t Either
Let me start off by stating something that may disturb you a little:
You are going to die.
Your children and neighbors are going to die.
Everyone you know, everyone you have ever met, will die.
Whatever your beliefs, convictions, ideals or fantasies regarding what happens when your heart stops — hold them, keep them and allow them to be your saving grace. If you have none — find peace with the eventual silence that will come.
That being said, let’s talk about life.
Because lately life has felt onerous and backbreaking and I know that I’m not the only one who at times looks down to see her toes sinking into the sand, more and more every day. Especially if you’re Black. Especially if you’re paying attention.
That ticker that scrolls at the bottom margin of your TV screen when the news is on seems important and impossible to keep up with. It’s filled with all the things you should probably know about and bring up during your coffee break or discuss with loved ones or write about in your status updates. It seems that way, but it’s not.
My cousin called me the other night and told me she no longer feels safe leaving the country and wanted to postpone our trip to Mexico. She shuffled around a few what if scenarios — some sounded valid, some sounded absurd, but I told her I understood. Because if people armed with explosives and wearing suicide vests are walking around in the world with no regard for human life, how is anything at all too far-fetched of an idea? I’ll admit, last night I stood outside of a Black theater at a practically all Black event focusing momentarily on the thought that it was just the type of place some crazy White supremacist could show up to with an AK-47 strapped to his Kevlar-laden back.
I shook the thought away.
Understand, I do understand.
I understand the fear and insecurity. I understand scaling back and hiding out. I understand simply existing each day and clinging to small worlds and peering out of covered windows — eyes wide-set and panicked. More and more people in my life are talking about buying guns because just in case and you never know and my personal favorite — I don’t want to be the only one unarmed.
And I understand that too.
I also understand that I am more likely to die falling out of bed than to be shot to death by a terrorist.
I know this, and you know this.
We get in our cars or hop on subway trains everyday — vehicles which statistically pose larger threats to our safety and well-being than flights out of the country to explore the world ever could.
Fear is all in our heads, anyway. It’s a psychotic emotion. It knocks on our doors and asks to be harbored and protected and nestles itself inside of us and makes us believe that as long as we keep it close, we’ll be okay. We’ll be aware. We’ll be ready. We’ll be informed.
Instead we’re just less likely to purchase a premier movie ticket or sit next to a Muslim man on an airplane. We’re less likely to live bravely and therefore less likely to change the world.
What we’re actually doing is killing ourselves.
Life isn’t the things we have and protect — life is how and what we feel. Life is running into the wind with our eyes closed, because we won’t see it coming anyway. Life is a flash in the pan and then it’s something else. Trying to preserve it is only human — but preserve its beauty above all.
Know what’s happening in your community.
Do your part.
Those directives are hammered into our minds everyday now. We stop short at our Facebook timelines and keep the major news channels on our screens like background noise. Because what if some story breaks and we’re the last to know?
But watching the news won’t change the world. And changing the world is impossible if we’re too afraid to step outside our doors and dare to walk the streets without casting judgment. And changing the world doesn’t mean reigning in global peace or reversing the effects of pollution or saving the pandas. Changing the world means allowing ourselves to exist in our own beauty and reflect that beauty intentionally.
Whether you are a victim, a bystander, an activist, a legislator or a yielding pacifist, your only defense is to rid yourself of fear and seek love in every possible corner of your existence. It is not your job to shake with fear. It’s your job to take note of the rarity of being alive in the first place.
Live your life as if doing so gracefully and with color and inherent freedom is your love letter, your ode, your prose in thanks to the privilege of existing at all.
Turn on the news, pick up the magazines and click on the headline of the moment. Anticipate the drama and respond to it as you see fit. But also breathe in goodness and appreciation. The purpose here is to live, and not just when the clouds part and sunshine leaks through and reminds us that things can be good from time to time.
In spite of the damage and the breaking news and the expectation that we may die gruesomely, at any given moment, at the hands of someone who is angry and mindless — the truth is actually contrary to all of that. Because hatred is simply love turned inside out. Every evil act is done, often blindly, in the name of love. Accept the humanity in that truth.
Breathe that in and then let it go.