Dear Lorelei: I Can’t Explain
The protests and the grey area
It's June first, twenty-twenty and the world is in chaos. We've been in quarantine or bored in the house and in the house bored since March thirteenth or at least, that's when my job sent me home. But I truly believe that is for the best right now. You will be four in two short months and trying to explain the world to you has been hard and heartbreaking the entire year. I've been telling you the world is sick but it's more than that and getting so much worse. The day you came to me and asked me if you were super good, if you could go back to school the next day, I cried and I prayed harder than I've prayed in a long time.
However, last night, I broke out my rosary- which I admit, I haven't done in a very long time. Last night we went to grandma and grandpa's house to celebrate daddy's birthday. We left early because we weren't sure we should drive home after dark. There were reports of "car violence" and every town between ours and your grandparents' had been looted. You asked why the police had their lights on. We passed so many officers. And so many shit down stores. Trying to explain the gray area to a three year old though... We turned on Frozen 2 (the soundtrack) and sang "Somethings Never Change" at the top of our lungs with you instead. I don't know if it was to distract you or to remind ourselves that truly- somethings never change, like the feel of your hand in mine (to quote the song).
So here I sit the next morning, you asked me for a hot dog for breakfast and instead of arguing for cereal or waffles, I made you a hot dog. I hope you read this when you're a little older and appreciate the world around you, in the hopes that it's better than it is now. In hopes that all of this is not for nothing; that real steps of progress are made.
The real reason all those police were out is because a man died. A man died at the hands of someone who was supposed to protect and serve. That is the cold, terrible truth. All those police were out because when he died, people became outraged - and they protested... And then, other people joined and more bad started happening. There's not a good way to explain it. I don't know how to explain the line between right and wrong in these protests to you. Mostly, because I'm not quite sure of it myself. The lines are blurry right now, but I know I'm sad for our city right now. And for a lot of small businesses getting looted. I know I don't want to walk in protests for fear of my life but also want to walk for fear of the lives of those getting treated in a way that's much less than humane. I want to walk for the people who fear for their lives everyday - when they are simply going for a jog. It's so hard to explain that in the world around us right now, in these protests, the lines between right and wrong are not easily defined. Especially when you’re trying to find a way to explain them to a three-year-old.
But I will explain this - I am not sure that the people looting these stores and starting these fires have anything to do with the actual protests. There are bad people in this world and there always will be. I do know a lot of the protesters - and they are there for all the right reasons. Something needs to change. There will almost always be someone trying to make the good guy look bad. It's like the first Spiderman when the newspaper guy is trying to pin him as the bad guy... It's hard to be good in a world that tries to see the bad in you. But superheros will prevail... and love conquers all.
As I talk more and more about the rioting and the looting - I try to imagine what the parents of these victims are feeling. I cannot even begin to imagine. I cannot say what I would do if I were put in the same situation. Because, my darling, if you were gone, I don't think I would care if the world around me was burning. I do understand that aspect at the very least. The parent clause, if you will. The idea that this human, this person that you raised and loved with every fiber of your being was murdered for no reason and was gasping for air while people stood and did nothing. And now people are in the streets yelling that it wasn't murder, or that it was somehow justified.... I would want to watch that world burn. I think. But I cannot say anything for sure and I pray that I and no one else will ever have to know how those parents are feeling. That is why these protests are necessary.
It is sad to watch though. It's scary. It's anxiety racking. It's terrible to turn on the news and see a city street you once strolled down and enjoyed with your family in ruins. It's horrifying to see a store you were in not two days ago in flames- not from an accident but because someone felt it necessary to set fire to it with people still making their way out. My point is - there are two sides to this madness... or rather many sides. I am not one to judge. I am not one to say that this isn't the way to get things done. I teach you on an almost daily basis that throwing fits won't get you what you want... but something I didn't realize I was teaching... it will get you attention. I don’t know if this is right- the looting and rioting I mean. A big part of me is telling me it’s not right at all. But a big part of me is also remembering that video and wondering if this is how it has to be for things to change; for you and the generations after you to live in a safer world- maybe we need to throw a fit first. Again, I am no expert. I am not one to say what is right, what is or isn’t working, and how people should feel. I only know I feel. I feel scared for the world you are growing up in.
I will tell you time and time again that everyone deserves your respect and love and prayers. I will raise you to believe that violence is never the answer. And that every life has value. I hope you don't have to see this when your older. I hope you read about in your history books and every single person in your class is disgusted by the actions of those cops and of the groups starting these fires and destroying these cities for no other reason than to make protesters look bad. I will preach to you that there are bad people of every race, gender, and religion - but there are good people in every race, gender, and religion also. Hate and anger isn't a born trait. You don't inherit it based on anything except what you are taught. And I will repeat to you the phrase I have used many times; when in doubt, pray it out.
I hate that this is happening. I hate that I watch the news on my phone and shut it off when you come by because - being that you're three, I don't know yet how to explain any of it to you. I barely know how to explain it to myself. Here's what I know; somethings never change- like the feel of your hand in mine. Somethings need to change- but nothing can change without love, listening, and understanding.