There is something I can never un-hear. The voice of a person I care deeply for yelling in my face that, “Laura, you hate me, you want me to die and you think all your problems would be solved if I were to keel over tomorrow!!” It’s probably the most hurtful thing anyone has ever said to me. The entitled individual in question would have me believe they know my every feeling and shame me for the bad ones. They later schooled me in the facts of love; according to them, love is rooted in subservient action.
We’re all aware by now, there was a mass shooting in Orlando this past weekend. As with every other tragedy our world faces, I find myself asking what I should say, if anything… especially as a writer. But as I watch the entangled outrage of people I’m normally not embarassed to call friends, I fall silent. The moment we learned of the shooting, we divided in a very serious way.
“GUN CONTROL, NOW!”
“The problem’s not gun control, it’s this STUPID SOCIETY!”
“What about the victims?!”
“My thoughts and prayers…”
Which one of these is mine? None. Zip. I’ve said nothing very definitive, though I did tweet out a simple, “Be safe ♡”.
“Why not?” — Sometimes I’m wondering what more to say that the media and all my friends have yet to cover. Other times, I’m just… overwhelmed.
“I bet you said something about Paris and all the others!” — Whether I did or not shouldn’t matter. What matters is that lives were lost at all.
“You hate gays, don’t you!?” — The fact that you would accuse me is telling of your own insecurities.
“Are you racist?” — See the answer to the previous question.
At the risk of letting another speak for me, my opinion is quite similar to The Minimalists’ take on tragedy. I have, however, provided an address to the harsher questions I’ve posed above. You’ll notice none of these questions reach the true heart of the matter. They are simply fake-outs; accusations meant to distract us from the real drama until it maneuvers a strike. There are those who choose respectful silence in times such as these. The question social media masses would like to ask us silent ones is this:
“Why don’t you care?”
Society craves our emotional reactions. Scream, cry… paint your face blue, take up a sword and gallop into the throngs of the enemy shouting “FOR GOD AND FOR COUNTRY” — or maybe we saw that in a film. We’re expected to say something. Anything. Just show some compassion. But this is not a requirement and a choice to keep quiet can itself be representative of deep sadness. How easily we forget that in the moments following the passing of even one darling, someone suggests, “Let’s have a moment of silence in honor/memory of the departed…” Yet, here is a world of societal pressure to “speak up and tell us how you feel about this, right now.” My answer to you is simply this:
There is nothing to be said that will help.
What advice of your own could you be following in this moment? Go spend time with the family you have today. Tomorrow they may well be a victim.
If you’re restless, go do something. Give of your time, talents, funding if you have it. Can’t go there? Stay where you are and start up a fundraiser.
I’m calling you out to stop the silent-people shaming.
To my fellow introverts, highly sensitive persons and empaths:
We all have an inner voice (yes, even the extroverts), and if we’re not careful, those voices can meld with those of friends and family who perhaps share similarly negative attitudes to the inner messages. If you must comment, I urge you to do so wisely as our emotions can often rule our impassioned heads. And if you find yourself, as I did, wallowing in the despair that there is literally nothing to be said, pick up a pen or a project. Write or find some outlet with which to release yourself. Above all, know that self-care isn’t selfish.
I wish I had more substance to offer you beyond “We love you” but as you mourn your many losses in the months and years to come, I imagine love will be the one thing you long for the most.
That is all. Thank you.