Saturday nightI attended the US Women’s National Team’s victory tour kickoff in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, a huge arena that can hold almost 100,000 individuals. We came to the scene in the wake of a single mass shooting and only hours ahead; since the crowd took a minute of silence to El Paso, TX, another 20-something-year-old white man was gearing up to unleash terror and bullets Dayton, OH.
There is a muted quality into the nighttime, regardless of the fireworks, and the cheers, along with the small euphoria of every objective. Since in moments such as this, when we ought to be sharing in an expression of joy, there is a feeling that violence could tear it apart at any moment. Simmering just beneath that shared joy is another sense: fear.
The foreboding is always there today, haunting our daily errands and most mundane moves, tainting the minutes where we ought to be at our most celebratory and tranquil.
The foreboding is always there today, haunting our everyday errands and many mundane motions, tainting the moments where we ought to be at our most celebratory and serene. Widespread anxiety can bring people together, I am sure, in some conditions. But America’s shared fear of mass shootings doesn’t make us feel nearer, because the perpetrators are constantly one of us. We’re suspicious of one another, anxious when we are surrounded by too many strangers. (This isn’t to say the panic is precisely the exact same for all people. I am white and would not assume to understand the terror people that are targeted by white supremacist terrorists as they’re black, brown, Jewish, or Muslim encounter. It is surely different than my own.)
I have been considering a notion Brené Brown writes on in her most recent publication, Braving the Wilderness, that is Durkheim’s concept of collective effervescence. His theory was rooted in faith, but I translate it as shooting that buoyant, connected feeling we get when we discuss in something meaningful and mental with a bunch of others. It’s the feeling that you get when you’re moved to tears at a concert among a crowd of thousands singing all the words, or whenever your neighborhood converges within the walls of the area of worship. This feeling that you’re just one bubble in a froth, being raised into the surface by the rest of the bubbles. It’s one of the most joyous feelings; one of the most gorgeous ways we could sense our humankind being supported by and with each other. Feeling safe, it seems to me, is a vital requirement of having this emotion. And I am afraid we are losing the capacity to sense it. I believe I am.
We are eternally navigating the wake of a mass shooting while concurrently bracing ourselves to the next.
In the football game, as I wielded my”I need to be such as Megan Rapinoe once I grow up” t-shirt so my boyfriend may take an Instagram boomerang, I wished to be present. I wanted to observe a group of women that are doing actual good in the world and demonstrating some of the best ideals of our country: challenging labour, inclusion, equality. I wished to feel unbridled joy. But instead, I had been considering how to escape whether the arena I was in burst into violence. I had been thinking about the way it felt wrong to rejoice in anything, stressed it would seem obscene and disgusting to observe.
However, if not then, when?
That evening, an acquaintance tweeted that she chose”a really awful day to watch Vox Lux for the first time.” The 2018 film, starring Natalie Portman, opens with a disturbing school shooting. When I watched her conversation, I recalled something I had forgotten: once I screened the film almost 1 year before, it was also a really awful day – two days after the Thousand Oaks, CAstarted shooting. The director introduced the movie and told the audience that when we didn’t feel up to remaining, he understood. I stayed, although I didn’t feel it up. Since now, it appears, there is never a day that’s not an awful moment. We are forever navigating the aftermath of a mass shooting in this country whilst concurrently bracing ourselves for the second.
It’s often said that everybody knows somebody who has been touched by cancer. At some stage soon – when we do not take urgent action to dramatically transform our laws and culture – I imagine the exact same will be true for mass shootings. I’ve a buddy who lived the vegas shooting. Thus did my sister. She resides in Idaho. I live in California. The shooting happened in Nevada. Today, American proximity to mass violence is narrowing in on zero degrees of separation. We’re terrified to come together in audiences. I felt that fear in the football match, as far as I wished to love with all the strangers by my side in a shared fire and a shared victory. It is profoundly sad. It is profoundly dreadful. But I am not ready to give in the fear. And I bet you aren’t, either.
Maybe a place to start, as challenging as it may be, is to acknowledge to ourselves fear of arriving together en masse isn’t a metaphor to our politics or even the condition of our communities now. It’s the fundamental fact of them. Afterward, we must choose how much the joy is value – and just how hard we are willing to fight to rediscover it.