In the past, when presented with bad news, my heart and mind would become numb. Another mass shooting? A suicide bomber? Civil war and diaspora? It doesn’t really concern me. As a fellow human being, I acknowledge that this sucks, and I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone. But what am I supposed to do about all that? Just forget about it and move on.
This week is different. I see my friends speaking up and taking action in regards to how Black Lives Matter. I witness my students shocked and saddened about the execution-style murder of Kem Ley, a hero of Cambodia. And then I wake up to see notifications from Facebook that my friends have been marked as safe during The Attack in Nice, France. And all of a sudden my heart breaks.
I’ve heard it before, “Life is suffering.” But suffering feels different when it’s right at your front porch step. This isn’t a suffering that I can turn away from, hideaway and numb myself to. This suffering is impacting me.
All I want to do is comfort my students, friends, and community. To promise that everything will be okay and that all we need to do is move forward, have hope, and be the change.
But if I’m being real, I don’t know if what I’m saying is true or productive for that matter. I don’t know how this government works, I don’t know how to solve racism, and I don’t know how to prevent terrorism.
Then it dawns on me… Who do you think you are to think you can or should solve all of these problems? And why do you think you can or should control other people’s outcomes?
So, instead of trying to fix everything, I relinquish control and recognize that there’s not that much I can do. In the next moment, instead of turning numb, I acknowledge the pain, frustration, and unfairness. The moment after that, instead of holding onto pain, I let go of it to make room for a new space, a space of love, kindness, and hope.
I can’t determine the future and I don’t have control over people. But, I definitely own this moment: I can see what is before me, right here and now, and determine what’s next. And that frankly is enough.