Wonder Boi Writes

25 Songs of Christmas: Dec 5 – Let There Be Peace On Earth

I haven’t slept a full night since the Grand Jury failed to indict Darren Wilson. It’s been almost two weeks and I am tried in a way that no nap can fix. I haven’t had a day without panic since Thanksgiving. That’s a full week of constantly feeling like something is sitting on my chest. I have begun to swing at shadows. I argue with people who aren’t here. Always vigilant always ready to fight. Then yesterday I started crying and I haven’t stopped. I cried through my evening devotional. This morning I cried at the thought of having to go back to Illinois for Christmas. I dissolve into tears at everything. I am crying right now.

I wonder how long this will go on. I wonder how much more I can take. And then I feel guilty because I know so many others have borne so much more pain and injustice and loss for so much longer. I feel guilty for even seeking rest when there is so much work to be done. So much at stake. So many lives so close to the edge. Every minute lost feels like another life lost. People keep talking about rage and I get that, I feel it too, but what’s choking me right now is desperation.

Honestly, I worry I am starting to succumb to it. I have been an activist for more than a decade. I have mobilized around women’s rights, marriage equality, hate crimes legislation, immigration, war, hunger, and gun violence. I am not some green newbie. I know that there are always more losses than wins, especially in the early waves of consciousness rising. I understand this is a marathon and I am embarrassed by my desolation, but I feel so helpless it’s crushing me.

I can’t fix the myriad of problems with out justice system. I can end racism. Hell, I can’t even stop my own family from saying horrible things about people who are fighting for their freaking lives. I want to give up. I want to tune out. I want to hole myself up in my house an never talk to another bigot again. I am cracking up and for what? I haven’t saved a single person? Maybe it’s time to back off a little bit.

But then there’s the guilt. My black friends don’t have luxury of taking a day off. Poor people can’t just decide not to stave for a couple days. People under attack can’t simply say, I’m goanna have a little vacation from this siege. Being able to take a break is a privilege. It is white privilege. It is class privilege. It is a privilege not afforded to everyone equally and not afforded to some people at all.

I didn’t ask for any of those privileges, but I have received them none the less. That’s the way privilege works. We don’t have any say in why or how we receive it, we can’t even reject it, we can only control what we do with it.  I am calling mine out. I am acknowledging the way it affects me and how it has the power to affect others. When some people get to take days off, and some people don’t who do you think cracks first? Do you think snaps first? Who do you think gets arrested first? Who do you think dies first? There is a caste system even inside a rebellion, and I am calling out the ways I benefit from that system.

That is a kind of activism too, I guess, to say, I see how the system works. I see how it treats us differently. I acknowledge the problems inherent in even the ways we are forced to keep vigil or accept rest.  Maybe that’s where I need to focus my energy right now. Maybe I will never cast as lasting blow to the hegemony, or racism, or poverty, or violence. Maybe all I can do is work in my circle to say in the moments when I get peace, this too is fundamentally unequal.

Today I will go to a rally, because Black lives matter. Then I will pick up my son from school and we will decorate the house for Christmas. Tomorrow I will attend several events to raise awareness and money to help fight hunger and poverty then I will celebrate the birthday or a little boy I adore. Sunday I will go to church and seek spiritual guidance and strength then I will go get my Christmas tree. I will have moments of struggle, of work, of grief, of loss, of anger, and of resolve. I will also work hard to have moments of peace, and joy, and hopefully rest, because without them I can’t see any reason to try and save this world. I cannot promise I won’t break down. I cannot promise I won’t feel guilty. I cannot promise I will always be strong, or steady, or right.

What I can promise though is that my peace, however I find it, will not come without awareness, without an acknowledgement, that true change has to come at the most personal level.  Even when I am not actively in engaged in fight against those larger systems of oppression, I can still be working to dismantle the systems of inequality at their most bedrock level within myself.

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December 5, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. Rachel, this is your most powerful post yet, in a string of powerful posts. Naming our privilege is vital to dismantling the systems that grant it. But you know that. What I want to do is thank you for the courage you are exhibiting in binding together your Christmas blogs with your commitment to social justice. I can’t see the distinction between the two, but so many people do. My family does, my famil who wants a white(washed) Christmas with no fights or problems….but has so very many.We will never know peace without our work for justice, not even in our own individual souls. Our faith ties Christmas together with Justice…why else would it have happened? And in knowing we are a part of the struggle for justice, we can find those quiet moments of peace for our souls. May you find as many as you need. Blessings.

    Comment by onamarae | December 7, 2014 | Reply


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