Today is yet another dark day in American history. In Charlottesville, Virginia there’s a conflict unraveling. This so-called “Unite the Right” protest, a confluence of neo-Nazi, pro-Confederate, and Alt-Right forces, has descended into violence and death.
There are many emotions flowing through the nation at the moment: shock, anger, disappointment. But for many of us, one feeling beats them all. The French have a term for it.
We’ve been here before. Many times. We should rightly be disappointed that we’re still dealing with this ridiculousness, but let’s not allow ourselves to believe it is new in any way.
Just last year, 3 people were stabbed at a KKK rally in Anaheim.
I vividly remember the sadness I felt as a teen first reading about the “Greensboro massacre” – on November 3, 1979, five protesters were shot dead and eleven others wounded by a group of Klansmen and neo-Nazis during a “Death to the Klan” rally in Greensboro, North Carolina.
I also remember amazing times when the strength of human compassion overcame the hate.
Like the time when a black woman in a USA shirt put her own body at risk to save a white neo-nazi in a Confederate Flag shirt from attacks by an angry mob outside a Klan rally in my home state of Michigan.
The world is simultaneously a horrible and beautiful place. It always has been. We hope for and strive to create something better…in time. Meanwhile, we alternate between hate and happiness, light and dark, fear and bravery.
Don’t look away from the madness. Don’t ever look away. But don’t forget to look at our better selves too.
It’s the only way to stay sane in the midst of constant insanity.