Waiting For the Smoke to Clear

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I have never been more glad I’ve been so busy that I couldn’t find a moment to sit down and write about current events, which I typically try to avoid because they’re so incendiary. (So now that I re-read that first sentence I start to laugh at myself.)

But I am entitled to my opinions. Looking back on the past few weeks, my opinions have been caught in a swell and wow…

I’ve been rocked by the news from Ferguson. I don’t have much to say about that personally or publicly other than the fact that it’s just awful, all of it. The tragic death of Michael Brown, the non-indictment and hubris of the cop, the riots in the town.

I don’t like what’s happening to the world. I grew up with a mentality that the police are our friends and that we can trust them to take care of us. This is easy for me to say as I am a white middle-aged female in a stable area of the country. So far I pose no threat as a yoga teacher and mother of three, and wife of 20+ years. I lead a very boring life in my striving for more mindfulness and I hope dearly that won’t ever change.

Speaking of my area of the country, I live in UVA home turf and my heart broke when I heard about the Rolling Stone article detailing a horrific gang rape at a fraternity house. At first, I was so confused. I did wonder about the lack of a “jet stream” from this story: how could this go unknown for two years? How could NO ONE see the pain this girl was in at the time? Has no one a conscience? I wonder about the effectiveness of letting colleges and universities handle these crimes on their own terms… the last time I looked, only the Vatican openly operated like that. Do our colleges want to be complicit and ranked with the cover-ups of pedophile priests? (Thinking back on Penn State and Sandusky … I guess so.) 

Now Rolling Stone is practically retracting its shoddily vetted article. I was sort of blown away at their initial defensive assertions of their legal and editorial team’s thorough vetting of the content and the lack of interviewing the alleged possible (yes, two steps removed) defendants. I thought, “Well, hell… if they can stand by their pieces about Nicki Minaj (whoever that is, I’m sure I’ve spelled it wrong) and long-dead members of The Beatles, then surely they can take on an established elite university and its legal team…”

No. It turns out they can’t.

It also turns out that this semi-retraction does no good for the rape culture eradication movement (that was a lot of words). Instead it takes the heat off the sadness of the culture and points it on shoddy journalism. To make matters worse, Rolling Stone threw its “star witness,” Jackie, under the bus. They essentially blamed her for fabricating by saying their trust in her was “mislead” when all along they failed to do the number-one, most important thing ever to do in journalism: VERIFY your story. “Everyone lies” is my motto. But no, RS couldn’t resist the heat this story was going to blast on the world and it went with it and ran. I retweeted my essential belief about the debacle:

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It’s hard living around here, I have lots of friends who went to UVA; my son is interested in visiting the school for college. I would have never suspected this kind of story would have come out, and I am partially relieved that it’s being examined because there is likely some truth in it somewhere.

I won’t belabor the misquotes and the reinventions of the alleged victim, Jackie, that’s not my jam. But I will join the many who see the larger impact a situation like this has: no one can trust anyone else and it stinks.

Next:

Speaking of no one being able to trust anyone anymore…

Eric Garner. My heart is so heavy. I first saw the video of his death the first day it went online. That was strange in the first place because I don’t “do” YouTube. When I was watching, I counted how many times he said, “I can’t breathe.” I think it was nine. Twice would’ve been enough for me. And that they’d arrested him before means they likely knew he was asthmatic and a small-time pain in the butt for selling loose cigarettes. I remember looking at the grip around his neck thinking, “He’s a big guy… it’s hard for him to breathe in the first place, that can’t be an ethical way to restrain him… and he’s not really fighting them off, there’s no need to be so forceful…” and then I feel like I could see his life leave his body. I remember sitting there horrified, feeling, “I just watched a man actually die at the arms of the police.”

To have that incident not result in a grand jury indictment … NnnnNnnnn. It was right there on video! I join the masses. I mourn for Eric Garner. It was wrong. All so very  very wrong.

It’s supposed to be Christmastime and Hanukah celebrations. We’re supposed to be coming off our Thanksgiving food comas and vaulting ourselves madly into debt to buy things people don’t need.

Can we get some justice around here? Can Jackie step into the light and own what’s gone on here? Can she say, “I said some erroneous things. It’s not all lies, but I did embellish … I know my credibility is shot and my treatment of this situation has done NOTHING for the movement except place it backwards and intensify the light on the veracity of the victim…”

Can Eric Garner get some justice? Without riots and fear? Without violence and hate? I think the people of Staten Island know they are out-powered if they went to the streets in a violent way and while it’s true, it’s not exactly comforting. I don’t know if the police need EVERYTHING they have.

Am I naïve?

What is happening to our beautiful planet?

It is beautiful. Look at pictures of it to remember how beautiful it is.

I saw “Interstellar” last weekend. It was gorgeous and layered and educational and woo-woo and Einsteinian and climactic. I highly recommend it. There was absolutely no sex or kissing in it at all, and that was hot. I remember looking at our pretty little marble planet through the lens through the “windshield” of the spacecraft and thinking, “It’s so pretty from far away…” and knowing as I sat in that theater that things were deeply troubled down here on the ground.

It reminded me of how my eyebrows look when I have my contact lenses off. Everything looks so appealing…

Don’t let these things get you down. I don’t mean to sound glib. I just mean to sound hopeful and kind. We can rise about this stuff and do what we can to stand tall and tell the truth and help people out and see one another… really SEE them. Am I an idiot? Am I pollyanna for thinking that the world can be better? Am I fool?

Probably. But it beats the hell out of being a cynic.

So be nice to people. Smile at strangers. Throw away trash you see on a sidewalk. Be the change. It begins with us…

Thank you.

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