Wednesday 29 July 2015

Human, Animal

I've been too quietly watching the news, speculation and details come out about Sandra Bland's death. There are so many instances of racism cutting life short, hitting the news daily, that I don't know how anyone could pretend the US doesn't have an issue with such things. It's a victory that the Confederate battle flag is being consigned to its rightful place as a historical relic steeped in violence, oppression and treason. But that's merely a symbolic victory--there's behavior to change. 
Meanwhile, the ugliness of a lion's death is galvanizing my soft-hearted friends who stand up against the torment of animals. Discussion of extinction, cruelty and the outrageous arrogance of humans permeates my social media. And that's a good thing. It's also an extremely simple thing to condemn--much easier than digging deep into the injustices human society inflicts on its own. 
But, let's remember: humans have the gift, amongst all animals, to be better than our savagery. We can increase our understanding, learn from our mistakes and ignorant transgressions. We are uniquely able to embrace our better natures and mitigate our own destructiveness. We can take each of those lessons and enhance our compassion, almost infinitely. 
Let's remember that almost every calamity we witness in our brief, delicate lives is directly related to human suffering and its awful, echoing effects. Our shimmering gem of a planet is ravaged out of hunger, fear, desperation and disregard. Everything we can do to replace trauma with kindness and consideration makes a little more space for healthy life, of all kinds. 
It is a beautiful thing to be able to empathize with other creatures. It can be harder to keep the lights on in our hearts for other people, whose problems may be uncomfortably tangled into the messiness of our own lives, or who may resemble those that have hurt us. 
The lurking shadows of human cruelty are overcome by helping each other to burn ever more brightly, and freeing ourselves from the ashen remains of our confinement from one another.

Tuesday 7 July 2015

Bomb Blasts and Beginnings

Ten years ago today, I was flying into London with my bags packed for a new life and voicemail messages from James about how terrorists were blowing up the city. With heightened security, all of us boarded the plane anyway. 

I landed in a city deserted. All of the cabs had long since been taken by commuting workers stranded by the eerily quiet transport system, shut down by the morning's bombs. The last option for transport was a limo, complete with chauffeur, so I was greeted by two men in suits and a placard with my name on it. 

There was no traffic from Heathrow to Holborn. I've never seen anything like it since. 

James himself had breezed past not one but two of the blast sites on his way to the office. Then, as the city realized what had happened, the phone networks became overwhelmed and normal life disappeared into a mix of chaos and the remarkable calm that only London can possess as it's having the shit kicked out of it. The place has had practice, after all. 

Within two days, people were taking the tube to work again. Within three months, we moved onto Edgware Road. 

This morning, I woke up to a lovely email reminding me that, despite the somber anniversary and the rough landing into English life, today also marks a decade of having gained a family and having started an adventure that changed my life forever. 

London, you're a tough old city. I'm loving you a lot today.