I know I’m not the only one out there who is having trouble dealing with the growing crisis surrounding Syrian refugees, the Paris attacks, this recent massacre in Orlando, and the constant threats that ISIS seems to be dangling in front of the Western world. The tension builds every day, as new hate crimes arise, more misinformed politicians take close-minded stands against what they perceive to be threats to “national security,” and more propaganda from terrorist organizations surfaces. Personally, I waffle back and forth between wanting to stick my head in the sand and pretend that none of this is happening, and wanting to know All The Things, grinding my life to a halt to take in the horror of it all.
I remember the last time I felt like this: in the months following September 11, 2001. The difference between then and now? Well, there are several things, actually. One major thing is the emergence of social media. Back in 2001, you couldn’t scroll through your Facebook feed to see what alarming things had happened moments before, or which of your friends leaned farther to the right (or left) than you were comfortable with by the memes they posted or links they shared. I have to admit, I kind of miss the times when my friends were just my friends, and not people I needed to unfollow because of their public stance on the niqab.
The other difference is that now, I’m a parent. And the wife of a man who, to untrained and ignorant eyes, could pass for Middle Eastern. He’s not, but that didn’t stop airport security officials all over the US from racially profiling him, in the years after 9/11.
I’m a mother. I’m a wife.
And wallowing in all that is wrong with right now is not going to help anyone in my life. And it’s certainly not going to help me.
I can’t tell you how easy it is to fall prey to the darkness that times like these can create. If I had my way, I would read every last article about the horrific experiences of all the Syrian refugees, being taken advantage of, turned away, suffering. I would read every last tribute and account of the Paris attacks. I would feel horrendously guilty for not paying enough attention to attacks in other countries. Attacks that were equally horrendous and not nearly as well-covered by the media. I would allow myself to get more and more riled up at the ridiculous indignation at being “invaded by foreigners” that politicians in countries that weren’t affected by recent attacks feel.
It’s enough to drive a person crazy.
A song popped into my head today. One that I haven’t thought of in a long time. It’s a remake by the Barenaked Ladies of an older Bruce Cockburn song (Who the hell are those people, you ask? Canadian music icons, that’s who.) called Lovers in a Dangerous Time. I think they released it around the time of the first Desert Storm, in the early 90s.
There’s a particular line that really resonates with me right now:
Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight
Gotta kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight.
This. This is my anthem, right now. Does this mean attacking an innocent Muslim woman because somehow you think she is part of the problem? Jesus fucking Christ, no. Does this mean closing up our communities from perceived threats and becoming completely xenophobic? Again, NO.
It means reacting like this incredible father did, in Paris, when his son was filled with fear.
Flowers are a sign of love, a sign of peace and of friendship They create beauty, transforming even the ugliest situations at least in some small way. And really, spreading flowers over an area of mass killing is a way of showing that beauty still exists, that love still exists. Flowers will grow on graves and life continues, despite horrible people trying to end it. I don’t always believe this, but at times like this I have to, in order to keep going.
We need to kick at the darkness. We need to fight hate with love. We need to show the bad people in the world that flowers will win over guns every. single. time.
Do I feel “normal” these days? Well, no, I don’t. But I will keep trying to fill up my world with love, keep trying to fill my children’s hearts with love, keep sending my family out into the world filled to the brim with love. And maybe, just maybe, they can help love win, too.
This piece was previously published at The Joy of Cooking (for Little Assholes) Glynis Ratcliffe used to be an opera singer, but after her daughter begged her to stop singing and be quiet for the millionth time, she decided to use her inside voice and write instead. Now she spends her time writing on her blog, The Joy of Cooking (for Little Assholes), about the important things in life, like potty training, eating too much Nutella and laughing at how ridiculous her kids are. You can find her writing on Scary Mommy, BLUNTmoms, The Huffington Post and Romper, as well. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram