It’s been a while since I last wrote on this blog, and the two-week hiatus has left with me with far too many thoughts to condense into an entry that’s even remotely cohesive, though I will try my best.
Valentine’s Day was this past Thursday, and as I celebrated my singledom with a group of friends that evening, I took a step back and looked around. Despite the fact that the pub was packed to capacity with patrons busy smiling, laughing and sipping Long Island Iced Teas, a closer look into many eyes revealed a different story: Fear, apprehension, desperation, loneliness. It seems as though no one knows who to turn to when they most need help; how to break through the walls of self-interest and idol worship — who will provide the next hug, compliment, kiss, orgasm. We are Americans; always left wanting more and better, because this is what we have grown up to value. What we don’t see, however, is that interpersonal consumerism is one of the strongest isolating and deprecating forces imaginable. When can we all just be happy being you and me?
My thoughts this week have also been with the victims of senseless violence at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., and E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, Calif. In case you missed these stories, on Tuesday, February 12, Lawrence King, an openly gay 15-year-old, was shot in the head by a classmate in Oxnard. Because he wore “feminine accessories” and makeup. Later this past week, on Thursday (the day of St. Valentine himself), five students were gunned down while many others were wounded by a shooter who attacked a lecture hall on the NIU campus.
To me, perhaps the most chilling part of the NIU tragedy is this quotation from the university’s public safety chief Donald Grady: “There were no red flags … It’s unlikely that anyone would ever have the ability to stop an incident like this from beginning.” In other words, to sum it up, “these things happen.” Complacency could not be any further removed from the route to social change.
This entry is dedicated to the memory of Larry King and the victims in DeKalb. Even acknowledging the tragedy of these shootings, however, I can’t ignore those who are dying every day in far-away areas of Africa and the Middle East as political unrest continues to result in violence in places such as Kenya, Sudan, Chad, Afghanistan and Palestine. In Kenya, 1000 people have died and 300,000 have lost their homes in the fallout from a disputed election this past December, with peace-making talks stagnating. In the continued Darfur genocide, experts estimate that 200,000 people have died, while 3.5 million have been displaced from their homes.
Maybe one day we can overcome hate and injustice, but it probably won’t be anytime soon. In the meantime, care for each other and care for yourself. Volunteer. Fight for equality. And enjoy the below tunes, loosely based around the themes of love, friendship and happiness.