some things we could do to make it better

We've been asked for interviews in the media, and it's caused me to consider what exactly I do want to say for public consumption.

In the wake of Libby's death, we all desperately want to understand, to create a coherent narrative, because this makes us feel safe. And we want this terrible tragedy never to happen to another person.

Yesterday, I saw the news on social media of another woman who had died. "She contracted an infection that she couldn't fight off," her friend stated.

And so often, it's as simple and as terrible as that: our bodies are fragile, and we contract illnesses that we can't fight off.

At the same time, we can acknowledge that the stressors in our world often make things worse instead of better for those who are sick and suffering, and when we as a community recognize this, we can take responsibility for ourselves and work to make amends.

If my friend's friend had contracted that infection from raw sewage running down her street, then we ought to get together and fix that problem.

That's what Love does: it cares about the distress of others and works to alleviate that suffering.

At least, reformation is what Enneagram One Love does; and you know me, that's the kind of Love I've got.

I ran across this quote from Sue Monk Kidd that resonates:

"There's a gap somehow between empathy and activism. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of 'soulforce' — something that emanates from a deep truth inside of us and empowers us to act. Once you identify your inner genius, you will be able to take action, whether it's writing a check or digging a well."

This is my soul-force, this is who I am, this is what I've got: Reformation-Love, and so this is the list I make.

I share my list here in hopes that my ideas might indeed make a difference for someone else.

Making a difference for someone else helps make meaning out of a tragedy I will never fully comprehend.

So here is my list, tendrils of hope growing out into the universe.

May it create shelter and blessing for someone.

May meaning come from my grief.

 Peace Maze, Castlewellan, Northern Ireland (photo by me and my cell phone)

Peace Maze, Castlewellan, Northern Ireland (photo by me and my cell phone)

As I look back over the last few years, I can identify a number of things that added greatly to Libby's stress.

Because I love Libby, here's my to-do list for the future.

  • Clean up the earth that Michelle is going to inherit

Libby was greatly distressed by climate change, by waste, by environmental destruction. We all reduced meat in our diets and thrift-shopped and bought smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles. Yes, watching multiple 6-foot-plus Bruners emerge from a Honda Fit does remind you of a clown car sketch, but that puppy gets 30+ mpg in the city. Plus even I can park it downtown.

Eat less meat. Use metal straws. Thrift shop. Drive a more fuel-efficient car.

Things I'm going to keep doing.

  • Promote parental leave for new parents

Libby loved her job and she wanted to work, but the truth is, she needed more time at home before going back to work, and she did not need that time to be full of stress about finances.

Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and the United States of America are the only countries on earth that do not offer parental leave.

Papua New Guinea at least has fabulous rain forests and beaches and snorkeling, I can testify. I've heard Lesotho is beautiful, too. And we have Utah. So all is not lost.

But dude.

Paid parental leave.

Now.

  • Get mental health care out of our jails and into our health care system

Here in Dallas county, Lou Sterret Jail is the largest provider of mental health "services" in our county.

Texas persistently ranks among the lowest states in mental health spending per capita.

I'm a therapist. I've worked with folks who have chronic mental illness in Dallas. One of my clients told me that she knew she wasn't doing well, and she couldn't get the help she needed, so she went next door, threw a brick through her neighbor's window and screamed until the police came. At least in Lou Sterret she'd be safe.

Can someone please explain to me how this is a humane and decent way to treat people with mental illness?

Because this does not look like Love to me, and I'm going to keep shouting about it until it changes.

  • Vote in universal health care for every person in our nation

This is one of the richest countries on earth.

No one should be going without basic health care.

No one should be weighing whether they can afford to visit their doctor, given the symptoms they're experiencing.

They should just be able to get the health care they need without the added stress of worrying about how to pay for it.

The fact that we do not have universal health care in the United States of America is simply immoral and can be traced directly to the nightmare of a government that's bought and paid for by corporations, rather than serving its citizens as it should.

I will be voting for candidates who are dedicated to universal health care.

  • Fully and equally fund our schools

Why did my daughter have to spend her modest teacher's salary on things like classroom decorations, books, and math manipulatives?

Why are some school districts less funded than others? Umm, like the brown ones mostly?

How can any of that possibly be right or fair?

Once again, it's beyond me, people.

I will be voting for candidates who care about our children more than their own pocketbooks.

  • Work for sensible gun laws

Libby was a teacher. School shootings are a horrible reality. Their existence causes intense distress to teachers and children every day. They must stop. 

We cannot love a weapon more than human life.

And we cannot throw our hands up as though nothing can be done.

Every other nation gets it done.

We can, too.

  • Keep marching until all really means ALL

Every person is worthy of love and inclusion, regardless of ability, skin color, race, religion, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any category that creates othering.

Libby saw the Divine Light in every single person.

We must strive to do the same, until every person is safe, beloved, and treated with dignity and respect in our communities.

Instead of fearing differences, we need to value differences as opportunities to learn from each other, to create space for growth and change and new life.

Love, not fear.

***

I doubt that's the end of my list, but it's a start, anyway.

Right now, I don't have the energy to do anything but tell you about this, but trust me: it's coming.

Anger is part of grief, and I'll be channeling my anger into fuel for activism. If you thought I marched a lot before, well.

We can't seriously believe that the bloated billionaires and bureaucrats in our state and national capitols have the answer to life.

Whatever their answer is, I don't want it.

Ever.

No handbag, no private plane, no real estate empire, no political clout is worth that kind of moral decay.

It's up to us to show them the way, including the path to the nearest exit as necessary.

Enough with making life about money and power and the accumulation of stuff that's all going to fall to dust anyway.

It is time to prioritize our care for each other,

and for this earth that is home to us all.

Perhaps your list will be different from mine, and that's okay. In fact, I hope that your list will be different. I can't think of everything or do everything (or much of anything right now, to be honest).

When we all identify our own inner genius, our particular soulforce, and let it free, beautiful things happen in the world.

And God knows, the world needs our collective, free, and beautiful genius right now.

What will your list include?

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