“So afraid of where I’m going, so in love with where I’ve been.”
The line above was written by an inmate at the county jail where we work, used lyrically to describe repeating cycles of addiction leading to repeated incarceration. The show was called “A Place at the Table,” a modern-day retelling of the myth of Sisyphus, the guy in Greek mythology who is damned for eternity never to get it right.
“So afraid of where I’m going. So in love with where I’ve been” also describes a lens through which I view our world this solstice/Full Moon day.
People are struggling with uncertainty in a world where everything changes and moves so fast, yet we track information on the web — a source that comes at us with information at the force, volume and velocity of a fire hose as opposed to a drinking fountain. Too much to take in and absorb all at once, and too little room for reflection on what is really true.
However, there’s plenty of time for reaction…upon reaction…upon reaction. So much so that the reaction becomes fact and the fuel for our argument and distraction — and not the meaning, which drifts further off the moorings. For everyone, life has been offering us big tests of our capacity for grief, patience, tolerance and compassion. We’re walking uphill in a world that has changed rapidly politically, economically and demographically over the last decade.
In the instance of the Orlando shooting case, the ham-handed simplicity with which we’ve traditionally gauged and assessed who causes terror is being challenged. For now, that is a good thing. The Club Pulse shootings happened a week ago, and it’s hard to pinpoint which facet of Omar Mateen’s life places him in the pigeonhole of a mass shooter or a terrorist on a rampage like we always do. Is he like an Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook), Charleston shooter Dylann Roof, or one of the Tsarnaev brothers? Or is he something altogether different?
Mateen’s Afghan heritage and Muslim faith collided with his online presence on gay dating sites, his inclusion on the US “no-fly list” and his conflicted membership in both Hezbollah and ISIS (two opposing forces in Middle East conflicts). Mateen’s recent deadly outburst in Orlando left us all questioning his motives. Was his violent behavior a single-minded act of terror? Or was he living out our country’s cultural, gender and political wars as they resided inside one body — his own. In any case, he should not have had access to a semi-automatic weapon.
Catapulted by events in Orlando, we begin the week in the US with a vote on an amendment that would allow law enforcement to block firearm sales for national security reasons in narrow circumstances. In other words: no one on a Department of Homeland Security watch list should be able to purchase a semi-automatic weapon.
That it’s taken 15 years post 9-11 to happen is shocking anywhere else but in America. Since Americans ‘need guns to put away terrorists’, any weapons-sale ban or background check would have been in violation of our Second Amendment rights, and of our ‘need’ to protect ourselves because of, er, terror.
Also this week, the UK prepares for the EU Referendum, also known as the “Brexit” vote. It takes place Thursday, June 23, exactly one week after Labour MP Jo Cox’s murder by Thomas Mair, who shouted “Britain First” — the cry of the anti-immigrant Far-Right nationalist group of the same name, who support the “Leave” (the EU) movement — as he attacked her.
Mair has been described as an “isolated man with some psychological problems” who was stirred by the same white nationalism that fuels much of Donald Trump’s political support in America — a fear of the other. Mair has also been involved with the National Alliance, an American Neo-Nazi group.
The overall aggressive anti-immigrant tone of this referendum has raised concerns, amplified by Cox’s murder. The moderation of that tone and atmosphere coming on the heels of Cox’s death is now about to be tested by Trump’s planned visit to Britain the day after the referendum.
Certainly, we may be so afraid of where we’re going and so in love with where we’ve been that we screw this phase in time up again. But this is no time for fear. It’s time for reflection on our existing fears using the light of a bright Cancer Sun and a sober Capricorn Moon to see them in full light.
As grieving for the dead continues, feelings bubbling underneath the surface over the last few weeks and months have potential to release their pressure. Maybe we can begin to find a way to solutions that make this world a welcoming, peaceful place for all of us. Maybe we can embrace a little more complexity in our lives as this world changes over time.
It seems a good time for knowing fears exist yet setting them aside, placing ourselves on the correct path regardless of fear, and pushing our load up so we reach the summit of our ideals of living fearlessly on the ever-changing planet. And yes, maybe we screw this up yet again, but maybe at the very least, we could absorb the lessons of the tests we face. A teachable moment is upon us. Can we rise to the occasion?