"What others call you, you become. It's a terrible magic that everyone can do—so do it. Call yourself what you wish to become."
-Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two
Today (as I'm writing this, not as you're reading it) is my birthday. It's also the day I woke up to terrible news from Dallas, the day after I woke up to terrible news from Minnesota, which was the day after I woke up to terrible news from Baton Rouge, just a couple of days after terrible news from Medina, just days after...you get the picture.
It hasn't been easy to be a person in the world lately, especially if you're a person who isn't white, but also in general. It's been hard.
The hardest part for me has been the way we seem to be treating all of these things as inevitable. Of course ISIS is attacking Iftar celebrations during Ramadan. Of course a black man carrying a gun in a state where openly carrying a gun is totally legal is going to be killed by police. Of course a sniper will shoot cops during a protest. Of course poverty, of course homelessness, of course, of course, of course.
But like so many things we seem to treat as a given, it's not inevitable, especially for those of us who don't have to fear for our lives when we see an officer on the street. It's a series of cascading consequences for a long string of choices that we all make every day. It's a consequence of our voting habits and our social habits and our unwillingness to resist our first impulse to fear. It's a consequence of refusing to listen, of standing in echo chambers, of never reaching out. It's a consequence of choices.
We could choose differently. It wouldn't happen overnight and it wouldn't be simple and for a lot of us it would have some costs, but we could choose differently. We could have different kinds of government, different kinds of law enforcement, different kinds of communities, different kinds of financial systems, different kinds of lives. We make the world. We could choose differently.
The most important lesson I’ve learned in 29 years is this: We get to choose for ourselves what becomes and remains beloved, but that also means we must find those things, and choose them. It is a right and a responsibility. Those of us with the right must, absolutely must carry the burden. We cannot keep living like this, and the only way out is to choose.
It's a mess, but it's not inevitable. Instead of deciding, every day, to continue on like this, we just need to embrace our power to decide, finally, to do the work.
Find your team and get to work. In the meantime, if you've got resources of any kind to share with the people who need it right now, please do.