Over the last few weeks, the stories of the conflicts have flooded our living rooms. You’ve heard about the 49 people gunned down in a club in Orlando because they were gay. That Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, two black men were gunned down by police officers; Castile while his 4-year-old stepdaughter bore witness in the back seat; Sterling for selling CDS of his music on a street corner. In retaliation, 5 police officers were gunned down in Dallas during what would have been a peaceful protest and 21 more were hurt in protests that happened in Minnesota and Louisiana, where at least 200 people have been arrested. This kind of gun violence, this brutality between human beings, is reported so often it makes you want to look away. Not another one? Which one is this? There have been so many mass shootings in the past couple of years, it’s getting hard to keep track.
As women, we are deeply affected by emotional stress and we easily remember the details of emotional events. Our brains are wired for heightened empathy and we can read the emotions of others simply by looking at their faces or interpreting their tone of voice. It’s why you’ll often hear women say, “I don’t like conflict.” Our brains are massively triggered by conflict, violence, brutality because it puts us at odds with our urge to stay connected, be in harmony with, to nurture and so we would rather defuse it. It is not instinctual for us to solve problems that way.
For me, these stories have been deeply depressing, even paralyzing. They leave me speechless at a time when words, when the ability to negotiate without force, with love, means everything. I don’t know how to solve these problems but I do know this way of being has to stop. There is a solution, one we haven’t thought of or experienced before and it is not found down the barrel of a gun. I also know with every fiber of my being that the solution lies within us: mothers, daughters and sisters.
Because never before have so many of us been able to use our voices, our dollars and our visibility to influence, to transform and to impact the way things get done. I don’t know when and I’m not sure how, but I do know that I have had enough. I also know how to do small things, to share a post, sign a petition, to not be available for a racist joke or an insult at the expense of another human being.
I will use my voice in my small circle and be a stand for love, for justice, for the sacred rights of humanity. I will do this because I know my small actions will accumulate over time and that if every one of us did only the small things we know to do, we would soon have a solution. Every drop in the bucket counts. Will you stand with me?