BEHIND DOMESTIC LINES

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OUR RAGE IS OUR LOVE

Image by Ashling McKeever

By Jami Ingledue

I am so tired.

I am tired of calling my senators. I am tired of thinking we can’t sink any lower, only to see things getting worse. I’m tired of spending my free time organizing and writing emails. I’m tired of being so angry at the soulless liars who have the audacity to get up there and lie to our faces over and over and over again. I’m tired of the feeling of constant stress and fear, and I’m tired of trying to sound the alarm as our country slides closer and closer to fascism, day by day. I’m tired of wondering how that sentence can even be possible.

I’m tired of having my heart broken over and over again.

But my rage will not allow me to rest.

Because this rage—this is not hate. This rage is born of love, it is the child of the heart, and just like a child of my body, some days it is the only thing that keeps me going, that keeps me from sinking into despair and inaction, that gets me out of bed in the morning, that gives me the will and the strength to keep going, one foot at a time in front of the other, on days when I feel like maybe sinking sounds like the way to go.

Rage can eat us alive, make no mistake, and it must be handled carefully, like a fire—or a toddler. We’ve got to care for ourselves or it will burn us up and burn us out. I’ve learned to live with my rage like a fire (or a toddler)—feed it when it needs to be fed, protect it from the forces that would harm it, but keep it from completely consuming me and destroying everything around me.

And now, like the mother-child bond, I’ve come to see it as sacred. Right now it is my love letter to the world, to the children of the world, to my own children. It is the rage of Shiva, the creator and the destroyer. Sometimes love requires us to smash things, to destroy.

And we will. Tear it all down and smash it to the ground. Because this is our chance to pull people out of complacency, to demand that they draw their line in the sand, to decide which side of history they will be on. This is not about politics and whose side you’re on. This is about being on the right side of history.

The side of Japanese internment camps? The side of “re-education” for Native Americans? The side of those who started with taking Jewish kids and putting them in nice pretty camps, and ended with Auschwitz? Because if you think what we’ve been doing with kids and families at the border is okay, there is no argument, there is no subtlety, THAT IS WHOSE SIDE OF HISTORY YOU ARE ON.

Why don’t we just take down those words from the Statue of Liberty, because it breaks my heart to hear them now, why don’t we stop pretending we are a beacon for the world, because we are not. We are not.

Give me your tired.

Your poor.

You huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

And we will take your children and lock them in cages while they scream for their mothers.

But our rage is now the fire of that torch, our rage will be a beacon, saying to the world: NOT ON MY WATCH. We will smash and destroy and scream like any mother protecting our children, because they are all our children. And we will not allow this to be done to our children with our tax dollars, in our name. In OUR name, they are torturing children.

And we will smash the illusion that we are a beacon of liberty and humanity. THIS IS WHO WE ARE. THIS IS WHO WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN. We were born of genocide and slavery and it’s about damn time we stop congratulating ourselves on how great we are and actually face the truth. Smash that illusion to the ground, because we can’t begin to fix it until we face it, until we shine the light into those dark places where the racists have been all along. Until we shine the light on the dark corners of bigotry in our own hearts.

We have seen the enemy and it is not little brown children. It is us. God help us, it is us.

Sometimes, for the first time since this nightmare started last November, I can feel my brain trying to go numb. That’s the natural human response to disaster, of course—go numb. Don’t look. Don’t listen to the children screaming. Don’t feel right now, because it’s too much.

But in those moments I warm myself at the fire of my rage, I let it spark and flare and flash into my sight, so that I MUST look, I must listen. I let it burn away the numbness and the despair and become bright and strong and undeniable. Though painful, it strengthens and sharpens me, like steel tempered in flames and hammered to a new edge.

“Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire”—Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Our rage is the light of our soul now, it is the fire lighting the darkness, the fire that will burn and cleanse. Our sparks and flares shine in the dark and send messages to others trying to see their way, and it sets their tinder aflame. The most courageous thing we can do right now is shine the light of our rage and our love so that others might see it and light their fire at it.

And our rage and our love will be the new beacon, the torch we hold up to show the world—see, we are still here, we mess up and we commit unspeakable cruelty and we hate our neighbors but then we send up sparks, we catch fire, we burn, and we say, WE ARE STILL HERE, we are still pushing the arc of history towards justice, we are still striving to be the people we think we are—to be worthy of that mighty woman with a torch, that lifts her lamp beside the golden door.

Jami worked as a librarian for over a decade before choosing to stay home when her son, now 4, was born. She also has a 17-year-old daughter. She makes all-natural soap and body products and sells them through her company, Dancing Bee Farms (dancingbeefarms.net). She lives with her husband, daughter, and son on an acre of land in rural Ohio, where they keep bees, garden, and brew beer.

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