It All Comes Back to Love

What can I even say?

I didn’t know anything about Troy Davis’ plight or his case until last night, when his life was taken by the state.

I am angry, sad, confused, lost… its crap like this that leaves me feeling hopeless, unable to escape from a culture that would murder a man who had so much reasonable doubt tied to his conviction that he probably shouldn’t even be in jail, let alone dead right now.

I feel complicit in all of this hate. No matter how much I read, no matter how many worthy causes I advocate for there are always going to be things that I miss. Like Troy Davis. I want so badly to do my part in advocating against racism, but I don’t even know where to begin in my community.  I want to advocate against the death penalty. I want to do something that would help to stop this from happening ever again. Yet I can’t seem to get past this feeling that my one voice doesn’t mean a single. damn. thing. I mean, if the voices of the thousands who did protest meant nothing to America’s government, why would mine?

How do you pick up and keep going when the country you’ve been raised to love violates its own principles so blatantly?

How do you accept the fact the the cries of so many Americans, calling out for justice for Troy, were so soundly ignored?

Tonight I watched a room full of Republicans boo a f*cking soldier, risking his life in Iraq for a country that doesn’t even recognize him as an equal citizen. So much for, ‘support our troops.’ Earlier this week I saw headlines telling the story of Jamey Rodemeyer, a fourteen year old boy who was pushed to suicide at the hands of bullying.

Where do you go when you dread opening your computer, turning on the TV, even opening your eyes in the morning… for fear of witnessing something else you can’t bear to comprehend?

What could I ever say, or hear, that could make this better? There’s the old standard: life goes on. And that’s true, life will go on and before long Troy Davis and Jamey Rodemeyer will be forgotten by most of us, overshadowed by a million other injustices, annoyances… and good things, too.

If anything, that makes me feel worse. For me, and for so many other life goes on. For Troy and Jamey it ends abruptly, senselessly, without justice.

Its human nature to look for connections, even when there are none. This time, there is a connection: it’s hate.

We’re trained, from an early age, to fear one another, to hate one another. White kids taught to hate kids with skin darker than their own by parents who weave elaborate lies about entitlement (welfare, affirmative action) and danger (muggings, crime). I should know, even my own progressive family feeds right into this BS from time to time. Children who aren’t white taught to hate themselves by a society that tells them you are not good enough, not deserving even of the things you have earned, a society where history has no meaning and everyone’s circumstance is something that they have earned rather than something determined by centuries of history, stretching back long before their birth. Is it any wonder Troy Davis is dead despite the overwhelming doubt surrounding his conviction?

When straight kids are taught to fear queer kids, as preachers teach that love can be a sin, teachers turn a blind eye to bullying and parents try to steer their kids in the “right direction.” When those queer kids are taught to hate themselves, to want to change because as they are love is something dangerous, not something that every human being deserves. A country where just being openly gay is enough to get a soldier booed. Is it any wonder that Jamey Rodemeyer killed himself just this week?

We’re taught to fear everyone who is not just like us, fear that can turn to hate in the blink of an eye.

A system that executes people for their crimes teaches us that killing, violence, and hate are the answer.

A government that refuses to grant basic rights (like marriage, or job protection) to vulnerable members of its population is one that teachers discrimination is okay.

… and we’re all complicit. Every single on of us has had a moment where we stayed silent, watched hate unfold before our eyes but sat paralyzed and unable to act. Maybe it was a friend calling a stupid movie gay or a grandmother making a ridiculous comment about Mexican students going to school for free. I’ll just let this one slide, we think. We’re having a nice time and I don’t want to be the downer.

I almost stopped blogging just a few weeks after starting, because the passage of Prop 8 in California left me feeling so gutted, so hopeless, that I just didn’t see the point. Just as I did then, I find myself returning to the idea of love as the only thing that matters, the only thing powerful enough to change our world into one that doesn’t hurt so much to inhabit. I don’t meant this in a wishy-washy metaphorical sense though. I mean we have to love each other enough to be honest. Love ourselves and the people around us enough to confront the hate, head on, to call it out even when it is masquerading as humor. We need to love our country enough to demand better. To write letters, and protest, and vote, and campaign until America lives up to the values it was founded upon. We need to love even the most hate-filled people, love them enough to push the hate from their hearts and help them to transform. We have to love even when all we want to do is close out the world because the hate simply hurts too much to bear.

It won’t ever be easy, but it will be worth it. That’s what I’ve learned, at least, in twenty one years of muddling through this all, and personally I will never stop trying to prove that love is stronger, for Troy Davis and Jamey Rodemeyer and the million other voices silenced all too soon by the simple power of hate.

4 thoughts on “It All Comes Back to Love

  1. I realize that my comment may not see the light of day on your blog but since you knew nothing about the Troy Davis until just the night before it’s interesting that you think you know enough about it to render your own verdict. Laughable at the least, sad, very sad at best. Research is harder, typing is easy.

    There are injustices in the judicial system, no question about it. But in this case, after years of appeal and reexamination of the facts (those dirty little facts) that weren’t widely reported, justice was served. Troy Davis is dead. Wanna know more? Read the link below.

    Rick –

  2. Thanks for your comment, Rick. I read your blog post, just as I read quite a few articles (from a range of sources) before writing this post. Its not as if I just saw a facebook status or something and then sat down to write… my opinion is based on research.

    Regardless, taking the issue of guilt-or-innocence out of this, comparing his treatment to that of Samuel Crowe who flat-out admitted his guilt but was STILL spared the death penalty, underscores my frustration… how is it right that a man with less doubt attached to his conviction is allowed to live, while Davis dies despite the questions that still exist?

    At the end of the day, his guilt or innocence doesn’t even matter so much to me since I just don’t believe in the death penalty. Life in prison will keep society just as safe, and stop us from sinking to the level of murderers. I’m not even incredibly religious but I do believe that “an eye for an eye” is not the way to go.

    • Thank you Jill for your reply. As I wrote in my blog, the system isn’t perfect, and I frankly don’t know enough about the Samuel Crowe case to have an opinion. One thing is certain, your assertion that “Life in prison will keep society just as safe” is patently false. Not — that is — if the “society” you refer to includes the guards who work in those prisons, as well as other staff members. They’re lives are constantly at risk, and have in fact been lost, to convicted killers who have no penalties to bear beyond their lifetime of incarceration. Kill another? What’s there to lose? Not to mention other inmates, whose lives are also at risk, who may be no more guilty than some believe Troy Davis to have been.

      I understand however your dislike for the penalties our society will place on others for the heinous crimes they commit against humanity.

      Thanks again.

      • No system is perfect, that’s for sure. The funny thing is, with the death penalty in place those risks you mentioned STILL exist. I mean, when you consider the fact that death-row inmates often spend years and years in appeals… sitting in jail cells, posing a threat to the guards that whole time.

        “No penalties to bear beyond their lifetime of incarceration,” isn’t entirely true when good behavior can get you better treatment in prison, and bad behavior the opposite… If we got rid of the death penalty those same dangerous people (and the innocent ones that our flawed system does sometimes place there) would still be sitting in cells (yes, for longer) with the same feelings of rage. Some might act upon them. This, I presume, is why things like solitary confinement exist… to keep the most dangerous people in our society from being able to harm others.

        We’re probably never going to see eye-to-eye but this ACLU piece is a good breakdown of basically why I believe the death penalty should be done away with:

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