The last time I felt this helpless in the face of major world events was when the tsunami struck Southeast Asia on Christmas in 2004. I watched footage of the wreckage of other peoples’ homes and thought about what it would be like to be without my home. I listened to interviews with people who couldn’t find their families, or friends, or community and thought about what it would be like to lose mine. I thought about how I couldn’t help those people in that moment.
That feeling of being unable to take action, to be useful, to help drove me to get my Emergency Medical Technician Certification. Having my EMT cert meant that when Hurricane Katrina struck, I had the skills needed to do something. I organized myself and 3 other EMTs from my college squad to go to New Orleans and join the relief efforts.
I probably developed PTSD from that experience. My really bad nightmares started then. I have no regrets about going.
Now, I find myself wondering what training I need go into prisons and comfort children. What kind of training do I need to combat government-sanctioned terrorism? How do I educate myself to fight against a government that seems hell bent on creating an actually evil state? Where do I find information on concrete steps to resist?
Unlike the earthquake and tsunami, this series of events is completely man-made and completely avoidable. The trauma that we, the United States, have inflicted and are inflicting on families was and is unnecessary. Though this now feels inevitable, we could have changed this.
I am not giving up on this fight. But I am also looking to the future. How do I change the future to be one that reflects values of compassion, empathy, and kindness? How can I make a difference? What do I need to do, and who do I need to become, so that this terrible bullshit can never happen again? And who will join me this time?