In the News

Why I Can’t Just Turn Off the News

 “Tell everyone on this train I love them.”

—Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23

 

I want to turn off the news. As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, I need to turn it off. To stay offline, to stay away from the headlines that promise environmental disaster, oppression, murder, and murder-by-lack-of-healthcare-access. I cannot keep up with the awful stories because they saturate me until I am sinking, unable to find anything that would propel me to the surface again so I can breathe.

Some people get pushed down into the muck and find anger. Some people forge their despair into action and call or march or write letters. Some are by their very lives defying the messages bombarding them because they are living, breathing, people of color, or women, or lgbt, or because they work with traumatized children, the elderly, the poor. Oh, how I admire these people. Oh, how I have tried to be them, making my own fruitless calls while living in the red state of Tennessee.

But I cannot be someone else. Those are not my gifts. I am limited by my own illnesses, my own introversion that becomes actually painful when my depression is flaring up. And even when I do everything right—which is rarely—like daily exercise, meditation, eating right, and more, there are flare-ups. The news can cause them. A miniscule shift in the rotation of the earth can cause them. I don’t know what the hell causes them, most times. But the news, that bitter stew of negativity and fear, is the main culprit these days.

Except. Except when a 23-year-old man—a boy, to someone my age, though his actions were very much adult and mature—not only steps in to shield oppressed young women from hatred, but ends his life with words that break my heart in exactly the right way. “Tell everyone on this train I love them.” Dying from a wound inflicted by a crazy bigot. Dying because he stood up to oppression and violence. Dying because he did the right thing. But dying with love.

How much love that act, and those words, sent out into the world. It feels like the tiniest ripple of water in a raging ocean. It feels meaningless. But it reminds us all how we would like to be remembered, how we would like to live. No love is ever meaningless. No act of love, witnessed or not, is ever meaningless. And our everyday lives are filled with love. When we make tea for our beloved. When we hug someone. When we create. When we share our broken, repaired, and broken-again hearts.

It is hard, being in this hate-filled world. It is hard to act, and hard to educate ourselves, and hard to know when and how to disconnect so we can renew and be ready to act and learn again. But it is not hard to love. Say the names of the Portland MAX heroes:  Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, killed; Rick Best, killed; and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, living. Love them. Love what they did. Love the people who supported them, educated them, influenced them. Love the thousands who now know and honor their names. And don’t forget to tell your love, to say it, while you can.

 

16 replies »

  1. Thank you for honest thoughts in these trying times. Each of us in our own way is persisting and resisting. Like you, I cannot keep away from the news out of fear of missing something that I need to know. I want my actions-whatever they are-to make a difference in moving things forward. However, I am learning to be discerning. I don’t need to make calls daily. I don’t need to march monthly. I don’t need to attend every meeting or webinar. But I do call when it makes sense to me. I will march when I can and I will attend those meetings. Other actions are equally important, though. Meditation. A yoga practice that expels negative energy and unjust forces. Writing and working in my garden. Running. A sort of ying and yang to all of my efforts, if you will. The latter practices have given me the energy and words to make the calls and write the letters. Whatever we all are doing will make a difference in the long run because this will not be over soon. If you know that, it gives you the determination to keep on going. Peace be with you!

  2. I so often feel the same! I feel guilty if I don’t watch, but when I do I can barely lift my feet to move when it’s over. Depression, anxiety – they are terrible things. God bless you for sharing your story.

  3. Hi Gloria,

    Just a beautiful and heart gripping post. I can tell by this and other writings you are a sensitive person. There is so much ugliness going on in our country right now. It’s hard to keep from being swallowed up by it. With this writing, you have shown your strength by bringing attention to such hatred as happened in Portland.

    I’m sure as a writer, you have had this happen. You find some quote that you love and want to write a post utilizing it. You struggle because you can’t find that subject that will accompany the quote. Then one day, you see it or the thought hits you. Now you know you have a subject matter and a quote to support it.

    Your post created the spark for me. I’m asking permission to use some quotes from your post to introduce mine. Of course I will give you credit and link it to your site. At this moment, all I have is the spark your post instilled in me.

    Thank you for the inspiration and the excellent post. Hugs.

    • Of course you can use quotes from my post. Thanks for your comment–I’m always thrilled to help or inspire other writers!

  4. Hi Katie,
    Now that I got the egg off my face, I again thank you for your inspiring piece. Please watch for it and I would love to hear your comments.

  5. https://youtu.be/14KobbDtfLw

    I wrote the above song, inspired by the words, “Tell everyone on this train, I love them”, after I couldn’t get them out of my head. When I spoke with Rachel Macy, the lady who originally was told that message, I found out she grew up with friends of mine, from my spiritual community here in Oregon, and in Atlanta. This just shows how we really are all connected. I have also been in contact with TriMet in Portland, and hope to be involved in future tributes to such beautiful heroes. I plan on recording “On This Train” in the studio in the next couple of weeks. I have beein writing songs for victims of tragedy, to promote love and healing, for the past three years. I believe it is important to respond to violence with love and empathy, and to use the power of art to transform us.

    • Thank you for posting this comment and for the link to the song. I’m so glad to know of your efforts in responding to tragedy with art and empathy. <3

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