I feel vulnerable writing this post because the issue is alive in me. I haven’t moved past it. I can’t tie it up in a neat bow. I’m sharing though because this is the only topic that came to mind to write about, and also I know there are other people who feel the way I do. I’m hopeful my experience will help.
I am deeply unsettled by the murder of Nia Wilson from a few weeks ago. It speaks to one of my worst fears – a random act of violence. (I should mention here police don’t know for sure it was random. It could have been racially motivated but the murderer didn’t say one word to her or her sisters before attacking. Also, women of color experience higher rates of this kind of violence because the consequences are lower.) As for me, instead of viewing strangers as friends I haven’t met yet, I view strangers as people who mean me harm. In public I am constantly on guard. And considering Nia was murdered while at a BART station that I frequent, I’m more fearful than usual.
My therapist suggested I acknowledge the fear and remind myself what I can control. I’m in control of my breath, of whether I eat or not. I’m in control of how clean I am, etc. It helps me to think about those things. It also helps to remind myself my perspective is skewed.
This weekend I attended the San Francisco Aerial Arts festival, which was glorious. I went by myself and rode public transportation all the way there and back. Doing so I realized the vast majority of people don’t care about me one way or another. The vast majority are neutral. If I don’t bother them, they won’t bother me. Also at the performance, the sash from my trench coat trailed to the ground and a woman tapped me on the back to tell me so. She demonstrated to me while the vast majority of people are neutral, the remainder of people are good. They want to help. They care about complete strangers and will tell you if you drop something. And then a small minority of people wish me harm. Often it’s not personal and I could easily be swapped out for someone else.
Am I still reeling from the random act of violence? Yes I am. Do I still want to barricade myself in my apartment? Yes I do. And I have to reconcile those feelings with another truth: The world is delightful. People dance on the side of buildings. People sing so well they move me to tears. People paint something that engrosses me for hours. The world is wonderful and terrible. It’s beautiful and hideous. I wish that wasn’t so but it is. All that I can do is what anyone can do, which is continuing to be a good person. To serve others where I can, to stand up for injustice, to sow love instead of hatred, and do my part to leave the world better than when I entered it.
I dream of a world where we remember the world is more good than it is bad. A world where we realize most people are neutral, and those that aren’t are more likely good people than people who want to hurt us. A world where we help others according to our capacity.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.