How to Stop the Carnage
I had stopped writing in any earnest way when the carnage started, shortly after November 2016. It didn’t look like carnage then, nor could it be imagined to look like it did on January 6, 2021. But it was clear a seismic shift was about to occur. In fact, he told us so- right there in front of the “Huge” crowd come to see the flick of the carnage switch that turned it on in January 2017.
I stopped a lot of things then and in the months, then years that ensued.
I stopped not caring or not bothering to notice. I realized there was too much to care about. Petty things you know — like life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Those pithy founding father phrases we all take for granted and the improvements to them. I stopped not thinking about them until they became something to lose.
The underserved, underpaid, underappreciated. The black and brown and all people of color and nations and religions. I stopped pretending that the systems that discriminate against them, that seek to render them powerless and worthless were ghosts of the past, or that we, the people, were better than they the people of the past.
I didn’t know what to do when so much of what was life “before” stopped. Especially when it came to a screeching halt when Coronavirus made its entrance, then howled at the globe. It paralyzed me. Writing seemed to be something I could offer. I had the time after all, newly retired and all. But I felt I had no real voice, and any voice I had mattered little.
Who would listen anyway? I’d be drowned out from all the “influencers”, young people, social media savvy people. My words would sound like dribble. I was getting old. I was losing any voice I thought I once had. I was stupid, lazy. I had outgrown my usefulness. There were so many causes, and I gave many of them a try. From life coach to church board member, to a behind the scenes activist.
None seemed to lead me or my yearning soul to any place of belonging or of real action.
Yet the carnage ensued, pursued. The ache in my soul grew larger and hollower in equal measure.
“Write Shari”, it pleaded with me. For days, then years as the carnage grew into an un recognizable monster. As it was raping our planet, threatening our species — it’s roar snuffing out a collective weeping rising from the humanity beneath it.
My voice, my ability to put into words the pain of a person and of a nation, was struggling. It was suffocating. Every time I tried to put pen to paper, or fingers on keyboard I froze. It was as if I was trying to anxiously clear my way through thick brush only the brush was in my brain. The opening was out there. I just couldn’t access it.
Then January 6 happened. We knew it would. There is always a build up before the release. There are always signs we choose to not look at. The carnage had metastasized. Democracy, or any aspiration of it we clung to was “near death”.
It is in these moments that clarity happens. They leave us no choice but to choose. Ours was for our American experiment or against it. It was, is, that simple. Will we toil toward the more perfect union knowing that pure perfection is not possible, or will we let the carnage continue because looking away is easier.
It is also in these moments that miracles happen. They are the only life-saving measure.
On January 6, I chose to “toil”. I picked up my pen and my laptop again. I vowed to allow my voice, flawed and imperfect as it is, to occupy my heart, then flow onto paper. I am only one person, not heard by many but a part of what makes up the many.
There is a light peeking through the brush now. If we don’t follow it , if I don’t follow it — we are, I am — lost forever. I choose to move toward it. It matters that we do the thing that calls us toward the light, however small it may seem, it is not. Not if we want to stop the carnage. We must.