“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.”
– Thomas Jefferson
When we are happy we laugh, we smile, we share and feel so alive.
When we hurt, many of us write.
I have cried so many tears. I feel so raw. I do NOT feel powerless.
I lived and worked in the beautiful city of Charlottesville, Virginia, for more than eleven years. Like many cities, it has its share of things that you can expect to see when many people are living in a community of any size. What distinguishes it from any place I have lived previously, is its beauty, charm, history, kindness, acceptance of others, collaborative and loving spirit and of course its intellectual presence in the University of Virginia. I relocated last year following the sale of my home there. I have visited since, and still find it to be a place that calls to me.
The events of this weekend have stirred me very deeply. I have exhausted myself with tears, and the unshakable and continuous feeling that our country is at an important crossroad. I was hopeful that this weekend would not be what I felt it was going to be.
My Facebook post on Friday…
“Praying for my beloved Charlottesville…that it does not become ground zero or serve as a lightning rod for the hate and intolerance that is pervasive in our country right now.
May all voices be heard, in a peaceful fashion, and may all citizens and law enforcement officers return to their homes Saturday evening, safe and physically uninjured. The emotional and psychological wounds may take a little while to heal.”
And then later than night, the “tiki torch” bearers marched on the UVA Grounds as students surrounded the Thomas Jefferson statue.
And on Friday morning…
In the face of fear,
In the face of anger,
In the face of hate,
In the face of intolerance,
Let us peacefully…Be Brave.”
As I watched the live feeds, seeing the streets I walked many times, I saw many things: the group of religious and spiritual leaders standing, arm in arm, on the sidewalk between the protestors at Emancipation Park and the counter protestors on Market Street; the protestors entering Emancipation Park, many dressed in fatigues, and armed with guns; the newspaper boxes hurled indiscriminately across the crowd; bottles thrown, flag sticks used as weapons to lash out at counter protestors; and then the video of a car speeding toward and crashing into other cars and counter protestors as they were walking away from the event. These images are emblazoned in my memory. Sleep didn’t come easy for me last night.
I have friends who marched with the counter protestors and I have friends who serve in law enforcement there. My anguish over the events which unfolded yesterday was punctuated by the loss of life of innocents – the young woman and the two Virginia State Police officers. These were lives which were truly, senselessly, sacrificed for the darkness which attempted to envelop Charlottesville.
I offer the following to my beloved Charlottesville…
“With gratitude to the city, county, and state government officials who spoke their truth about the violent participants in the senseless rally; I bow, as I offer prayers, for the many police officers who were visible and behind the scenes during this highly charged and emotional weekend in #Charlottesville. As you mourn the loss of your VSP brothers, know that we stand with you, we mourn alongside you from wherever we are, and we continue to support you in appreciation for your service.
To the families who lost loved ones I offer my heartfelt condolences. The loss of two officers who were in service and supporting those on the ground during this event is one more senseless aspect of this unfolding tragedy. The loss of a young woman who along with others were walking away, only adds to the deep pain which is palpable for so many of us.
Finally, to those who stood up to hate, who followed the rules of peaceful protest, and were attacked anyway, I stand with you; I honor your commitment to love and peace in the face of fear – expressed as anger and hate.”
If we haven’t seen before this weekend, I hope our eyes and hearts will now open to the power of words – spoken, tweeted, written or shouted. Each word has energy as does the emotion behind it. We see very clearly the power of negativity and of silence – or what is NOT said. I will not be silent about what wasn’t said by the sitting President. Further, I will not sully this space – mine or yours as you read this – with his words.
We are here to love each other, not to hate, or resort to violence as a way of expressing our fear…although many seem to know no other way.
As much as Charlottesville became “ground zero or serve as a lightning rod for the hate and intolerance” yesterday, I know it will heal. The peace-loving people of that city will come together as they always have and always will. They will rise.