The Boys are out on Boy Scout camping which means that the Girl and I have enjoyed yet another Girl-Weekend. Once more, we have binged on the loveliness of Once Upon a Time and all its fairy-tale goodness and how hope and goodness will defeat all evil.
I actually love that idea. I even want to believe in it. At the same time, I have a hard time thinking about all the good people in the World Trade Center or the good people in the Nazi-driven gas chambers or the good people in the killing fields of Cambodia.
Even as I type this, I can feel my sense of hope eke out through the pit in my stomach and that sense of emotional depletion which I refuse to allow to become my norm and my identity.
I believe in the power of goodness. I believe in the power of hope. I just wish that this power of goodness and hope truly could over-ride all the evil that is in the world. And, as a Christian, I know I’m supposed to believe that good will conquer evil. I believe that God is superior to evil. I believe that God can truly over-power evil. I just wish that His fingers held up the Twin Towers or that his palm would have caught the airplanes or that his breath would have blown away the x-klon-B gas or that he would have lifted the flaming tire necklaces that were strewn over people’s heads.
I don’t understand. I really don’t. Which makes me feel like I am less of a Christian.
People ask me, “How can you believe in a God who lets these horrible things happen.”
I don’t have a good answer. I don’t have any answer. I can only say, humbly, “I don’t know.”
But I do. I do believe and I want to believe and I choose to believe because life without belief, at least for me, is bleak and hard and depressing. As a teacher, I constantly comb through my students’ tragedies. Sure, we are living in a first-world country so we might not be experiencing the hell of tribal circumcisions without anesthetic or hygienic conditions. And we might not be living through the oppression against gender (yes, I know we don’t have full equal rights, but at least I’m not being hunted down and shot because I want to be educated like Malala).
But just because it could be worse elsewhere doesn’t make it any better for my students who are their families’ primary wage earners or have suffered through rape or sexual assault or physical and emotional abuse or are judged and rejected by their families because of sexuality or differences in opinion.
Pain is pain. It doesn’t have a gender preference or a sexual preference or a religious preference. No one color or ethnicity is exempt from pain. No one socio-economic class is excluded from pain.
And I have Band-aids. Lots of them. I have Spongebob Band-aids and Monsters Inc Band-aids and Monster-High Band-aids. And they’ll cover up the wounds and staunch the blood flow and absorb a little bit of the sadness. But, in the end, the sadness is still there.
I’ll never forget the student, about eleven to twelve years ago, who came to my trailer. She curled up in my chair while I taught class and when I dismissed them for lunch, I turned to her and asked her what I could do for her. She didn’t say anything. She merely rolled up her sleeves and thrust her arms at me in a silent plea for help.
They looked like she had put them through a blender. This lovely, beautiful, wonderful young woman was destroying herself, one razor blade cut at a time.
I didn’t have enough Band-aids to fix this. Even now, as I type those words and letters, I can still see the sunlight dappling her frayed skin.
Television and movies and media likes to use the 60-second speech to fix everything. And I’ve fallen for it. I’ve fallen for the power of that beautiful speech, that pep-talk that will change everything. I’ve seen it constantly. Whether it’s Emma in Once Upon a Time admitting that she felt like an orphan growing up to Snow White recognizing that she’s the real ruler to the simple “Oh Captain my Captain” in my beloved Dead Poet’s Society. We love the 60-second speeches in which a character comes to realization about the ugly truth that he/she has hidden within him/herself and that by publicly proclaiming the ugly truth the person and the society will start the healing process and then….they can (another close to 60-second speech)…”Let It Go!”
I have not lost hope. I am not ranting. I am merely exorcising an existential crisis moment where I, as a mother, am watching my daughter watching another woman give a 60-second speech that is the climax of her identity crisis. And I know that my daughter will someday give her own 60-second speech that will be at the crux of her own crisis and will feel that incredible euphoria as the endorphins kick in and the tears start to roll down her cheeks. And I can only hope that I will be there to hold her and love her.
Because what television and movies forget is that after the 60-second speech occurs comes the next 60-seconds and the next 60-seconds which is followed by the ever cycling of the hands on the clock or the constant turning of the hourglass.
At the same time, I refuse to bend and cave to my jaded, cynical side that loves and laughs at the Deep Blue Sea 60-second speech which climaxed with a shark eating Samuel L. Jackson who just gave the 60-second speech. I can’t remember a word he said…other than “the” or “a” or “an” and probably an “I” and a “you” and a couple of “we’s.” I remember the shark launching out of the water and snagging up Mr. Jackson before crunching him in all its CGI gloriousness.
I’m still like Samwise Gamgee (whom I love and completely identify with). I might not be able to carry the ring. “But I can carry you.”
So, I’ll pick you up after your 60-second speech. And I’ll carry you through your trial and tribulation. I might give you my own 60-second speech or a couple of bad jokes that are true examples of bad timing. But I’ll help you through your 60-seconds and the next
and the next
and the next