I’ve spent much of the day working with a friend’s poetry manuscript, grateful for her humanity, and her love of the messy natural world as I process, distractedly, what happened in Orlando last night.
I am cynical and bitchy enough to suspect that the members of the Orlando Chamber of Commerce are more worried about what will happen to their city’s image (Disney! Universal Studios! Disney! Florida Sunshine!) than they are about what happened. Sometimes I remember my manners and my religion and try to forget what I’ve seen come out of the mouths of other members of other Chambers. And sometimes I remember to be human (in the sense of Menschlich) to imagine that most of them will be grieving with the rest of us and maybe standing quietly in long lines, trying to stay hydrated enough in the Florida summer sunshine to be able to give blood. That some of them may have quietly given some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars to the GoFundMe site for the victims and their families.
But Trump and Pat Robertson and dozens of other heartless drones of conservative fundamentalist (religious or not) patriarchal pseudo ideology will break into my attempts to remember to be human and make me wish, against ALL my own moral/ethical/religious beliefs that they would die painful deaths, or at least that the testosterone-generating parts of their bodies would just fall off.
I don’t much like who I am in the face of stuff like this.
So I am going to keep reminding myself that Donald Trump’s chubby body is sacred. Pat Robertson’s scarecrow body is sacred. The bodies of the Orlando shooter and the guy they stopped from blowing up the Gay Pride parade in L.A. are/were sacred. And if their bodies aren’t then neither is mine.
I don’t mean that all lives matter, although it would be good if we could collectively get that through out thick damn heads. “Matter” is different from sacred.
Sacred means that black lives get to matter more noisily until there is no difference between having a black body and having a white body.
Sacred means that fat bodies matter until the hive-mind stops thinking they are ugly/gross/indicators-of-immorality-or-failed-character.
Sacred means that LGBT bodies matter because ALL bodies get to chose who to be and who to love and too many people want to chose for them.
Sacred means childrens’ bodies matter terribly because they’re fragile and we continue, too often, to believe that hurting them is ever an act of love.
Sacred means women’s bodies are theirs, and do not owe anyone pretty-ness or smiles or any kind of access.
Sacred means that General Westmoreland looking into a camera and explaining that it was okay to kill Vietnamese people was okay because they didn’t value life as much as Americans did scarred the minds of a generation, as it should have.
Sacred includes Muslim bodies. Even the bodies of members of ISIS. Which was hard to type. It includes the bodies of all 57 religions (and atheism) whose symbols Arlington places on gravestones. It includes the bodies of humans who do unspeakable things to other humans and to other species.
Sacred includes the bodies of cis-hetero white men.Even the assholes in the booth next to my daughter this morning who were being so vilely sexist to the waitress (I gendered it on purpose) that they drove her out of the restaurant before she’d finished her meal. Scumbags. But sacred.
Sacred includes the bodies of every human I wish I didn’t have to share planet-space with. This kind of sucks. Not least because it involves staying conscious that it includes my body, which I have not always respected or treated kindly, even though others have loved it and it bore my children, who are my heart.
I suspect that’s the thing about sacredness. It demands that we, whether religious or not, understand that we must all exist together in something more powerful than “tolerance,” though that would be a start. It doesn’t mean that Omar Mateen wasn’t a horribly damaged and horribly vile human. But he was a human. If we make him into a monster of any sort (If I make Donald Trump into a monster of any sort…) we deny that part of ourselves that we, to varying degrees, have to work on keeping at bay. Recognizing the sacredness of other human bodies means we have to recognize them as family. No matter what.
This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have shot Hitler or Mateen, given the chance and if that had been the only way to stop them. Hopefully, I can stop Trump by voting (though Delaware is not exactly a swing state). I might not even feel I’d violated my own codes for long. I have no way of knowing, and hope fervently that I never find out.
I’m talking to myself as much as I am to you-who-read-this. Maybe more.
Maybe Flannery O’Connor was right and “Beauty will save the world.” In which case I’m going back to working with my gorgeous friend’s gorgeous poems.