If you get a bone stuck in your throat, or something goes down the wrong way, you can usually cough it out. Or maybe someone slaps you on the back or someone else gets you a glass of water or gives you a piece of bread to eat. Your fear of choking is soon gone and memories of the incident quickly fade.
It’s not that easy when it’s an incident you’ve seen or an event that strikes close to home. And the cause of the discomfort to you may be like stubbing a toe or banging an elbow on another person. But for you – it’s a major incident, one that is upsetting and indeed may worsen in time.
The other day I read about the Rosewood Massacre in Florida that took place in 1923. It quickly became a “bone in my throat.” It was almost forgotten. There was a brief online article about a descendent of one of the survivors who was working hard to earn her Ph.D.
I was stuck. Unfortunately, this was not the worst of the lynchings or racial massacres that took place not that long ago or in some fashion continue to take place even today. But you could say it became “My bone.” Meanwhile, back in my man-cave, there is no one to slap my back, get me a glass of water, or bring me a slice of bread. That’s something I have to do for myself.
OK. So “Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen” or even cares. Can you hear the thousand and one violins playing just for you? Probably not. But that self-pity is bullshit. There are people who care and others who are trying their best to keep history from repeating itself. And most of the writers (probably all) for Havok are caring and are running with bread and water in hand (hmm, maybe I should work on this last sentence).
The State of Florida has acknowledged its culpability in not protecting the residents of Rosewood or providing justice for the victims. But it did provide some financial compensation and a college scholarship fund for descendants of the massacre. Hopefully, some healing can come to the victims.
I don’t think you can turn the bully off. You don’t stop the schoolyard bully and he or she grows up to be abusive – spouses, partners, and children become victims. Expand the scope and it’s easy to see how divisiveness, hating the other, grows and grows, and the number of victims increases. And not infrequently the mass shooter then turns the gun back on themselves. There are NO winners here.
Bread and water – well I care and there are others that care. There are family and friends who also are there. And you always have yourself.
Here are a couple of suggestions no matter where we find ourselves at any given moment. Override the negative with the positive. Where there’s hate, bring love and when there’s divisiveness, work for inclusiveness. Remind yourself we’re all in this together.
And if nothing seems to work, practice acts of loving kindness (yeah, I’ll suggest it again, pick up a piece of litter), remember to smile and treat everyone with respect. That’s a good start on the slap, piece of bread, and glass of water.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.