But I can't do that today.
Today, I'm numb. I'm shocked. I'm tired.
I haven't felt this hopeless in a long time. The memory of it had started to seep out of my bones, until I read the news last night. But I feel it settling in, pray that it will be abated tomorrow.
But will this senseless violence be abated tomorrow?
I doubt it.
And I wish, I wish, I wish that I could wave a magic wand and make it all go away. To erase the existence of racism. To bring back the lives that have been lost. To wipe away the tears shed by mothers, brothers, sons, girlfriends, too many to count. To eradicate prejudice and hate.
But too many times in the month and a half that I've been home, I've woken up to a world where sound bites are more important than relationships. Where the fear of losing power makes people lash out rather than seek understanding. Where blame is shifted onto the victim rather than the perpetrator.
Enough is enough is enough.
And yet, I'm losing my capacity to hope that enough really is enough. That tragedy will spark preventative action. That rational minds will win out over fear-mongering lies. That our country will ever be the shining beacon it was envisioned to be - embracing the tired, the hungry, the poor. [Nowadays, embracing the gay, the Muslim refugee, the black.]
At this point, it feels like all the words have been spoken. All the stories shared. All the vigils prayed at. All the pleas for peace and gun control and fair treatment.
49 names from Pulse in Orlando. Forty nine.
And 5 more names from Dallas. Brent Thompson, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Smith, and Lorne Ahrens.
All I have left is one word. Listen.
If you are white, listen to the voices that have experienced police brutality, unequal education, racial profiling, and generations of oppression.
If you are heterosexual and cisgender, listen to the voices that have experienced name-calling, physical assaults, discriminatory legislation, and attempts to "pray the gay away."
If you are male or Christian or able-bodied or middle class or part of any other privileged group, listen to the voices that have negative experiences because they aren't like you.
Their stories are not about making you feel guilty. Their stories are not about comparing one group's pain to another's.
Their stories are their stories, just as much as yours and mine.
Their stories are about affecting change in our society.
Their stories are about making all of America better.
Right now, though, we just keep spinning around a merry-go-round cycle of violence and intolerance. We argue for stereotypes instead of against them. We treat the symptoms of societal ills instead of the root problem. We see a rise in hate speech, culminating in Donald Trump spreading slanderous lies about refugees, immigrants, minorities, women...and still having people willing to follow him.
Black people ask that it not be dangerous to walk/drive/exist while black. White people get offended and yell "We matter too!"
Gay people celebrate equal rights. Christians refuse to bake them cakes.
Cop kills innocent driver. Sniper shoots innocent cop.
The only way we have a shot at changing that is if we quit going around on this endless merry-go-round. If we take just a minute to listen to the people who are different from us.
Because I don't see how we can take much more of this without all our hope bleeding out and evaporating on the ground. Our idealism mocked and beaten to the point of no recognition. Our spirits destroyed, just like the lives that violence takes.
They don't get to dream anymore, or love anymore, or rejoice anymore, or suffer anymore.
They don't get to feel anymore.
But can we?