Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Charlottesville Vigil


A long day went by. It was long for me but surely much longer for others.

I felt a heaviness that I've felt too much lately.

A heaviness because of the disgusting show of white supremacy and Nazism with which we were all assaulted this weekend. And because of so much of the hurtful response to it.

I came home tonight and turned on the TV, almost habitually, and saw live coverage of a Charlottesville vigil. The news station just pointed a camera at it for a very long time without commentary. The crowd of hundreds or thousands or it might as well have been millions broke into every familiar song together.


They sang that "this land is your land" and "this land is my land."

They sang about their little light and how they're "gonna let it shine."

They sang Amazing Grace.

They occasionally laughed when they realized they didn't know second verses, but they attempted to sing them anyway.

I didn't plan to watch it. But I couldn't stop.

The crowd of diverse faces and softly-powerful voices just kept coming. And I could not turn them off.

As I listened and watched I realized some things I already knew.

That people are good.

That love for others is surprisingly powerful.

That it's possible to care about strangers I've never met, 2,000 miles away from me.

That shared heartache is unifying.

That unity makes life worth living.

That courage sometimes looks like peace.

That peace sometimes looks like resilience.

That the greatest ugliness can sometimes produce the most beautiful silver linings.

That diversity breeds beauty.

That while there's strength in numbers, that strength matters more when it's punctuated with charity.

That hostility is surprisingly unpersuasive.

That humility sets you free.

That no opinion matters more than a person.

That fire is pretty when it's held up by purity.

That there is reason to be optimistic about the future as long as my neighbors are in it.

I know some older people who would call my epiphanies naive and too cheesy to matter.

But I'm a 33-year-old man who has used variations of these epiphanies to live 33 pretty amazing, albeit tough at times, years. So I say they matter. And I'm sorry for anyone who can't make them matter for themselves.

My hope tonight and this year and beyond is that I can spread that naivety as far and wide as my little self can, especially to those who have had a much more tumultuous journey than I have. That I can use the good fortune I've been afforded and find ways to make that good fortune matter.

I was inspired tonight by beauty. And I'm grateful for that.

I love you all.

~It Just Gets Stranger

12 comments:

  1. There is a big difference in the flames burning here versus the flames from a few nights ago. Beautiful!
    I hope your naivety spreads with the winds.

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  2. This made me cry. In a good way. Thanks, Eli. I think we all need to be reminded that there are still good people in this world.

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  3. Again thank you for putting into words what I cannot.

    As for your naivety . . . I'm a 42 year-old woman. I've got a few years on you - not a lot but a few. I grew up incredibly cynical. I didn't trust people. I expected the worse out of people and remained wholly unsurprised and unaffected when I got it from them. But in the last decade my cynicism has waned.

    Perhaps it's from seeing the world through the eyes of my child (he's 11). Perhaps it's from simple age and experience. But today I see people with much kinder eyes. I see the world much less in terms of good and bad and much more as people who are usually just doing what they can to survive another day and just maybe find some happiness.

    I love your statement that an opinion is not more important than a person. It took me a long time to learn this.

    This is not naive.

    This is wise.

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  4. 'My hope tonight and this year and beyond is that I can spread that naivety as far and wide as my little self can, especially to those who have had a much more tumultuous journey than I have. That I can use the good fortune I've been afforded and find ways to make that good fortune matter.'

    This.
    If these epiphanies are naive and cheesy, then I, too, am naive and cheesy. But I think maybe the world could use a little more of that.
    I work in the justice system like you. And goodness...that optimism is hard to hold on to sometimes. But I'm thankful that you're trying. And I'm thankful that you write lovely things like this and send them out into the world to encourage the rest of us to keep trying too.
    I don't really know where I'm going with any of this, except to say that I like this. And I like you.

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  5. Thanks for making me cry at work.

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  6. Crying therapeutic tears. Thank you.

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  7. You said what my heart has been feeling- thank you! thank you!

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  8. Love you, too. Thank you!!

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  9. Beautiful post — it gave me some perspective. Thanks!

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  10. Well that made my stomach ache. In a good way. Thank you for trusting us with your deep feels. We get it.

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  11. This is SO GOOD ELI!!!! Thank you. :)

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