by Dana Taylor
9:02 am of April 19, 1995 is forever etched into my memory. My cozy home in an Oklahoma City suburb suddenly shook as if, well, a bomb had gone off. Which indeed, it had. The walls, floors, and offices of the downtown Murrah Building blew to smithereens. Dozens died, including babies in the day care center.
A whole city of individuals was suddenly pulled together in a mutual cataclysmic event. The rose colored glasses of thinking we lived in a safe place were ripped off. Disbelief morphed into collective grief. Everyone experienced their own revelations as the days and weeks unfolded. Personally, I developed a sense of empathy for victims of random violence I had not known before. I’d lived a protected life, free from the horrors of war and chaos. When I read of bombs going off in foreign cafes or a suicide bomber destroying a wedding, I couldn’t identify. Those things happened far away. They were more like stories in movies. Not real. Suddenly I felt the reality of instant, random death and calculated hate. Real shit.
Fast forward twenty-five years. The global pandemic. It’s not just some disease in some foreign country affecting people who don’t speak my language. No, it’s here. It’s now. It’s real. Real shit.
And then this Memorial Day, it really hits the fan with the murder of George Floyd. The event is a perfect storm of people locked up and FED UP. Throw in some anarchists, stupid Tweets, and rage. Cities across the US and the world explode.
So, what to make of this? I’m sure sociologists better educated than I will analyze our collective psyches. But to me it seems the message clear: we are all in this together.
Disease and violence isn’t just something that visits other people in other lands. They are part of the human experience. According to the soothsayers, channelers and assorted spiritual teachers, we are in the opening decade of The Awakening, an appropriate moniker. A very rude Awakening indeed. This is all a slap in the face. And yet, so necessary. Wake up! Wake up to white privilege and racism. Wake up to global annihilation. Wake up to ugly truths and well, more of that, real shit.
What to do? Play the blame game? Point the fingers? Hide in our homes and watch Netflix? Of course, there are no easy solutions. Yet, common sense tells me if we are all in this together, then we all have to play our part. This is a watershed moment. As individuals we make choices that ripple into our families and communities. No one person or organization or government is going to “save” us. We have choices. We can pull together for the greater good, one person at a time. Or we can further devolve into fighting factions. Which will it be?
There are certainly compelling arguments for doom and gloom. The chaos will continue. The wake up calls have just begun. But, we live on a planet of free will. We make the decisions that set the course of our individual lives. Collectively, we make decisions that set the course of the nations. It’s time to learn from the past, but not repeat it. Time to break the patterns, tear down the old walls, come up with fresh ideas.
Despite the headlines and upcoming uninspiring election choices, I see hope in younger leadership emerging with better ideas for the global community. Complacency is not an option. If enough people can meet the chaos with kindness over fear, with peace over destruction, we can witness positive, compassionate changes in our societies.
It took a while, but after the Oklahoma City bombing, community leaders came together in a cooperative manner. A beautiful memorial now sits on the site of the destruction. The decaying downtown area was reimagined and revitalized.
Planet earth can also be reimagined and revitalized. It will take courage and compassionate action. No one is exempt. We are all in this together.