It seems the world has gone mad. The riots across the country have spread throughout the rest of the globe, which I get.
The violence of one led to the violence of others, and here I am in NYC, walking down Lexington as if the city is a ghost town of boarded up windows after a big shootout between good and evil.
Someone said they broke into Macy’s and Foot Locker across the street. I know there was a building on 49th Street that had its lobby windows trashed and broken.
I stood on 42nd and 3rd yesterday, just before 6:00 pm and saw the protesters coming down the street. But I didn’t move.
This was peaceful but there were some that were clearly ready and hoping that something crazy could jump.
I stood my ground because first and foremost, this is my city too. I stood my ground because in fairness, I am no threat to them and they are no threat to me. I am not a big person by any means but I am not small either. To put this plainly, I have a look. I have a presence. And for whichever reason, I can say that no one ever bothers me. At least not really.
However, I do know what it feels like to be racially profiled and followed in stores. I know what it is like to fit beneath the “Suspect” category and I know how it feels to be categorized by a stereotype.
The fact of the matter is we have lived through a shattering time. On top of the sickness and the quarantine, we faced a death toll of more than 100,000 people.
This is not supposed to happen.
Aside from this, we have been fed different news stories. Some of the news benefits the right wing and some of the news benefits the left. The fact of the matter is we are living in a time of a revolution. Make no mistake about this. Religion has been replaced by politics. Science has been replaced by politicians. The news has been replaced with tragedies and outrage. But where does this leave us?
Has anything good happened in the last few months or has everything been overshadowed by a virus that we still don’t completely understand.
This is not supposed to happen.
We are not supposed to live like this.
Keep in mind, this time of year, social media is supposed to be flooded with proud pictures of students graduating high school. We are supposed to see photos of prom or someone’s kid with their first car.
This is not supposed to be like this.
The current events defy everything that we have seen or been taught as normal and as a result, this has completely changed our reality to something we would otherwise see as unreal.
The reality is we are not supposed to live this way.
We are not built like this.
The idea of social distancing and the quarantine is enough to drive us all crazy. But wait, no, there’s more.
Something we are not supposed to see is murder.
We are not supposed to witness one person killing another.
The idea of death registers in the mind as a tragic finality, which leads to our internal, and personal primal being.
We know what death is.
We know what murder is.
We have been taught about this since childhood.
We learned about this throughout our life.
We are born, we live, we grow, and then we die.
Death is the ultimate finality.
However, we are not supposed to witness the act of murder.
We are not built to see the tragic final expression of someone as they die.
For the most part (and again, I say for the most part) we are taught to share, hold hands when necessary, be nice, and play fair.
Of course this does not always happen. In many cases, circumstances defy the lessons we have been taught.
This is what causes the emotional trauma. This is the turbulence in our life that creates the unresolved tensions we never seem to let go of.
Within one months time, we have watched a jogger be assassinated and then quite literally social pages have been flooded with the video of this murder and recently, the media is flooded with video footage of murder of George Floyd. He was pleading for his life.
This goes against the normal code.
“Please,” he said.
“I can’t breathe,” he said.
Of course there are those that cry out for conspiracy. There are those that argue the validity of the video. There are opinions, which have no bearing on the fact that at minimum, everyone that watched the video of Floyd’s neck beneath the knee of the officer was there, front row, to witness a murder.
We are not supposed to see things like this.
This goes against every lesson we are taught. This goes against our moral compass. It even says in one of the Ten Commandments; Thou shalt not kill.
And yet, we witnessed someone not only die by the hand of someone else; we also heard his last words and saw the final expression on his face.
We are not built for this.
We are not built this way. We are not supposed to see things like this but yet, we’ve all seen it.
Now, add the 105,000 people that died of Covid. Add the financial tension and the spike in the unemployment rate. Add the spike of metal illness and domestic disputes. Add the the spike in overdoses. Add the spike in suicide. Add the pent up aggression and energy of being confined and quarantined, plus, add the mediatization of all the tragedies and what is the result?
The world has caught itself a case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in a hurry.
PTSD is the stress of seeing something traumatic and a moral injury. This is what happens when we see something defy the natural order of our moral beliefs. This is when we see things we are not supposed to see, like abuse or death, or be robbed of a moment because once we’ve seen travesty; somehow, it’s like we cannot unsee or think about anything else.
Someone told me it has to hurt before it heals.
Well, safe to say that I am hurting.
Am I healing?
Only time will tell me the answer but until then, I will learn to replace thought with action and do the best I can to spread as much love and compassion to those around me.
The world is a crazy place. Sometimes it seems like I am at the center of it all. And maybe I am, but that doesn’t mean I have to give into it.
Not on my watch.