"Irrespective of age, we mourn for those loved and lost. Mourning is one of the
deepest expressions of pure love." Rusell M. Nelson
Don't get me wrong, in a practical sense, it makes sense that we feel more closely connected to certain happenings, people, and places. In the grand scheme of things, however, there are distinct patterns of fervent engagement or detachment (real or perceived) by people within our spheres of influence, and large swaths of people outside of those. I know we cannot keep up with everything that goes on, but humans have an immeasurable capacity to care - shouldn't we prove that? Why do we find ourselves being overcome by emotion in reaction to some news, and seemingly unphased by others? Is our mourning naturally selective, or it is just another manifestation of how we internalize our socialization? How are we so quick to forget, or move on to the next "thing" - when the aftermath of what has occurred takes years?
Are some people's deaths sadder than others? Why is a dog passing away in a movie oftentimes more visceral than that of a person? What is it about elderly folx or children that impacts us so much? Does it matter for people to look like us for us to feel something for/about them? There are ways in which we like to think that we readily demonstrate kindness, compassion, and empathy for our fellow person, but the tough reality is those instances may be more of a rarity than we care to admit. Who do we care about, and better question yet - why? Even then, we can easily get stuck in sympathy which can become indistinguishable from pity. We feel what we feel, and that's not a choice. Feeling everything would be overwhelming, but feeling nothing would undermine life itself. What I'm saying is we need to interrogate the ways that we show support whether be in the light or in the dark. It's one thing to be unapologetic for causes and identities we or someone close to us hold, but what about when someone who has drastically different experiences than us is being centered? Do we open our wallets, do we post statuses, share articles, or have conversations about it in our daily lives, or do we keep scrolling on past? Is that an issue for those people, or is it not my problem? Do we even see an issue, or do we just see it as just people complaining to complain? Is our mourning only reserved for those confined to our borders? What allows us to ignore people or what is going on - is it self-preservation or just plain old selfishness?
There has to be a better way to let people know that we care about them besides the platitudes of offering thoughts and prayers. Mourning comes in so many forms. Tears, sitting in silence, writing, art, isolation, and the list goes on and on. Everyone does it differently, and that is okay. There is not one way to mourn. We all process things differently. The phrase "thoughts and prayers" is devoid of meaning, and especially where we are now in this political intersection, seems more and more disingenuous. What does thinking about someone in our heads for them? Much like any thought, nobody knows what we are contemplating unless we articulate it with them. Better yet, we are called to take action - however we are able. If it is in the form of monetary giving, donation of food or toiletries, availing a space, giving comfort, whatever just make sure that it is tangible. It might even be civic engagement, calling for change, volunteering, town halls, voting, contacting representatives. Prayer can be powerful for those who believe in it, but for others it can come off as condescending, dismissive, or inauthentic. Action has to become part of how we convey our words. Now more than ever we have to show our kindness not just talk about it. We need it, and others need us to do so.
With the constant flood of traumatic, anxiety inducing, and nerve-racking stories, and accompanying media, it can be remarkably easy to want to disconnect from it all. There's not a day that goes by without me seeing posts about wanting to get away from negativity or politics. I think there is a misuse of the negativity, and our understanding of politics is ironically, inherently political. It seems the issues of some are just that - issues - whereas the issues of others are deemed identity politics. Without the need to specify here, as we, as a society, have always normalized certain folx, their ideologies, worldviews, beliefs, cultures and issues, we othered everybody else. Now we see those distinctions, the way we talk about those things, and who gets to say what, where, why, and how.
Take a break. Log off, sign out, turn off notifications, power down. Your mental health, and sense of self are exponentially more important that keeping up with the fickleness of our twenty-four hours news cycle. Do things for yourself that bring you peace, make you smile, and fill you with joy. Take pleasure in the little things. Express gratitude, be thankful, and be self-aware. Surround yourself with love, light, and hope. BUT rejoin the conversation when you've recharged - checking out permanently ensures complicity in the problems facing our society. We have to be engaged. We have to remain vigilant. We have to constantly be learning, improving, and striving to be better - create a better community, society, and world for us all to thrive in. That requires us to stay informed, think critically, be media literate, etc. We are needed. All of us. Change requires each one of us, and a commitment to dialogue, and activism.
Along those same lines, I cannot stress enough how problematic, triggering, and traumatizing it is for use to consistently be watching the killings of other people. Stop retweeting, sharing, posting - whatever - graphic videos or images of people losing their lives. It's not necessary, it's not right, and it's not okay. We can understand the magnitude of what has gone on without turning death, bloodshed, murder, etc. into throwaway entertainment. The shock factor of positioning explicit material in between face filters, emojis, and buzzfeed quizzes is lost. We have become desensitized to death, and it's not natural. Real life has become uncomfortable similar to the media we consume via television, film, literature, art, etc. People being hurt, natural disasters, or death are not matters to be taken lightly. We cannot romanticize our world; it's realities remain steadfast. Mourn in ways that show respect to those most directly impacted. X