Emotional whiplash and the dawn of healing
Emotional whiplash. That’s how the span of the last week or so feels.
A week ago, I was in utter shock and dismay at the murder of nine innocent people in the Emmanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The savagery of one deranged, vile individual cast a pall over every moment of the day. Whenever a mass assault like this occurs, I’m unable to process this sort of cruelty. I have no frame of reference for it. It leaves me emotionally stunned. I have trouble grasping that I’m of the same species. Maybe I’m not.
Unlike previous shootings that were simply random, horrific and cruel, this last shooting, was strictly, unequivocally, undeniably racially motivated. The shooter (and I do not glorify his name here on purpose) hoped to ignite a race war. His demonic hopes backfired. By Monday of last week, spiraling out across the country from Charleston (and, so symbolically on the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War), came a sober reevaluation of just what the Confederate flag means, and a renewed recognition that we have a lot of work to do to heal the wounds for which that war was fought.
At long last, states in the south are moving toward removing the Confederate flag from all government properties and institutions. At long last, non-black America is pausing to consider the punch in the chest one might feel to be black and have to walk past that flag at one’s own state capitol. The Confederate flag is to black Americans what the Swastika is to Jews. Hate is hate is hate is hate. Maybe we’re all starting to “get it.”
Beginning with a reevaluation of racist symbols, last week then progressed to the Supreme Court’s decision on June 25 to uphold Obamacare (aka the ACA), and in Supreme Court terms, with a 6-3 ruling, it was a landslide: Obamacare is Constitutional, and the question of whether everyone in this country is entitled to healthcare was answered with a resounding “Yes.” Is Obamacare perfect? No. It’s a first step. Maybe now, without constant obstruction from the Radical Right, healthcare for one and all can finally move forward.
Thursday’s decision was the slam and Friday’s decision was the dunk: The Supreme Court declared the very next day that the Constitution protects same-sex marriage. Boom. Done. Over. All those states that ban gay marriage? You just got served, SCOTUS style.
Just like the familiar rainbow flag, we’ve collectively traveled through every color of emotion last week. We’ve seen the best and the worst, and everything in between, in a mere 10 days. And man, it’s got to be rough working for Fox “News” right now, clinging for dear life as they topple over the edge of relevancy. Those thuds you just heard? That was Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee hitting dirt. They’ll pad the landing for Fox “News,” purveyor of hate, fear, propaganda and misinformation for far, far too long. May we all dance on its grave.
But enough about that. Let’s get back to today, Friday, June 26. As rainbow flags are waving, our President is delivering a eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney. It doesn’t get any whiplashier than this. We’re teeter-tottering between extreme joy and extreme sorrow. Despite the day’s funerals, this weekend (which is serendipitously Pride weekend — well played, SCOTUS) will surely be consumed with elation and relief as we celebrate marriage equality for all.
So, let’s recap: As of this week, as it pertains to healthcare, all Americans are equal! Yay! As it pertains to marriage, all Americans are equal! Yay, and a snap! As it pertains to racism… well, we’re two out of three. That said, something seems to have budged. The shooting in Charleston was the tipping point. I pondered the tragic story, against the backdrop of Charleston residents — black and white, and everything in between — coming together to mourn, to support each other, to commiserate and commemorate, demonstrating that grief (and likewise, love) has no color. I wondered how we could remember these nine souls other than the way they died.
Number nine. Hmmm. John Lennon had a fascination with it, and even wrote a song about it. Must be something special about it. Not being a numerologist, I googled number nine, and found an answer at numerology.com:
“The last of the cardinal numbers, the 9 is the most worldly and sophisticated of all numbers. The 9 has some similarities with the 6. However, whereas the 6 as a symbol of motherly (or fatherly) love, giving its love and care to friends, family and the immediate community, the 9 offers it to the world at large; the 9, more than any other number, has global consciousness. Looking at the shape of the symbol is, as always, quite telling. The 9 is like the 6 upside down, a symbol of her offering sympathy and compassion to everyone; a reservoir of giving with a generous downward spout.
“The 9 lives in the world and understands the connections between all of mankind. It is a humanitarian, and sees no real difference between its neighbor next door and the person living in a very different culture and environment on the other side of the world. The 9 is the least judgmental of all numbers, the most tolerant and the most conscious.”
May these nine names become the icons for a generous downward spout of healing, compassion, love and kindness: Clementa Pinckney, Sharonda Coleman Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, Cynthia Hurd, Myra Thompson, Daniel Simmons Sr., and DePayne Middleton-Doctor. As the Confederate flag comes down in disgrace, let’s raise a new flag with nine stars, or maybe nine hearts. And its anthem as it is raised? “Age of Aquarius.”
A new age dawned in our country this week for healthcare and marriage equality. May the sun now shine on the healing of racial tension. We sang the song in 1969. In 2015, let’s live it.