Trauma and New Life
Emma Gonzalez. A tiny young woman who arrested our attention with the way she held space for grief and outrage not with words, but 6½ minutes of silence, the amount of time it took a gunman to kill 17 of her classmates and friends. She could have spoken, and it would have been a significant moment.Instead, her presence, raw courage, and commitment traveled around the world.With no words, at a time when it seems that the NRA has bought the compliant silence of the majority of our national politicians, she called on each of us to make change.
Emma and other Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School students have organized their outrage and grief over social media. They took all the calls from newspapers and TV news. They were interviewed locally and on 60 Minutes; MSD student, Isabelle Robinson, had an op-ed in the NYT—all this even before high school graduation…all for a grotesque reason no one ever would request. And yet, with their outreach they mobilized more than half a million people to go to Washington, DC, with millions more in support not just in US cities and towns, but around the world.
Did they succeed where other grieving parents and friends haven't after other massacres? Perhaps.Or maybe all of these grieving, outraged people together have found a deep commitment and love, and together have become something like a stream of living water that's wearing away at the hard granite of greed and fear perpetrated by the gun lobby. Maybe our collective vision and efforts on gun law changes just need more time than we expected.Maybe this is what successful resistance looks like.It keeps pushing forward, like water that finds a way past seemingly impenetrable obstacles.
Some have questioned whether we ought to encourage traumatized, grieving children to lead us in these efforts.I wrestle with that too. But then I recall the Easter story in which the traumatized, grieving friends of Jesus, who had been cruelly killed by the Romans for political "crimes," gathered together, talked among themselves for a long time, and then emerged from their hiding with a conviction and passion that changed their local culture, and eventually the world.
Trauma cracks us open.If we don't get help we experience more damage. But trauma when attended can become a deep source of transformation and healing for more than just oneself. And no one has the right to interfere with that sacred process. So this spring, I'm going to continue to look for ways to follow the lead of the MSD students, and Sandy Hook parents, and the Mothers of the Movement, all who are fighting for black and brown lives, all who are relentlessly working for safer, saner gun laws. May all of us find ways to heal, even as we let our outrage and pain answer the call of love.As we do, together may we co-create the better, more just, more beautiful world we envision.