Warning: f-bombs ahead.
Last Thursday, my family and I were shocked to find out that a friend of my daughter Sophia had been shot and killed earlier that morning.
I shared this post publicly on Facebook along with a link to a local news story:
“This 18-year-old young man who was shot and killed was [my daughter] Sophia’s friend. He had just graduated with her 11 days ago. So fucking stupid. Some other guy playing with a rifle. Accidentally shot and killed Nathan. Guns are meant for killing. Not for playing. You know the best way not to shoot and kill your own fucking friend? Don’t have a fucking gun.”
That post sparked much discussion about “gun rights,” with many people overlooking the profoundly depressing truth that a young man had just been stupidly, senselessly killed.
I started to edit that post a couple of times over the proceeding 24 hours, after my anger had given way to sorrow. Is that how I wanted random people to see me? Is that how I wanted to be known?
Would other “inspirational, spiritual leaders/mentors” write “fucking” in a Facebook post?
Would they express raw anger the way I did?
I decided to let my original anger and profanity stand, and I want to explain why:
(1) I don’t want to be a member of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, digitally altering perceived reality to suit my wishes. If I had said the words out loud on stage, I wouldn’t be able to take them back. So I won’t take them back here.
(2) More important than #1, those words and that reaction are part of who I am. And I am more than OK with people seeing and knowing all those different parts of me.
Being an “inspirational, spiritual leader/mentor” is just one part of me. And my kind of spirituality involves feeling and expressing all emotions, not just the “love and light ones.” My kind of spirituality involves saying fuck. My kind of spirituality involves being emotionally authentic, not hiding behind a façade of feigned peace.
Rage is real and earthy, like lightning or a volcano. I will not deny that power in me.
(3) Finally, I may indeed say fuck a bit too often. But some things are so fuck-worthy that it belittles that thing/incident when we avoid using profanity. Nathan’s death is profane. It deserves to hear a chorus of “fucks” from those of us who are outraged and/or grieving.
When I ask myself, “What would Jesus or Gautama Buddha do in this situation,” I know that they would flip over tables in the temple and cry out to the heavens. And so do I.
And so my words stand.
Of course, you can be spiritual and still say “fuck.” In fact, sometimes our spirituality demands that we scream “fuck” to the heavens.
Spirituality is not about transcending our humanity. Why the fuck would we be embodied humans if we were meant to transcend our bodies, our emotions, our rawness?
Spirituality is about fully embracing our humanity—the light and the dark, the love and the hate, the pure and the profane.
I will not deny my humanity by whitewashing a tragedy. I know in my soul that Nathan’s soul is just fine. All is well for him. All is well for all of us. Ultimately, yes, all I feel is love and peace when I connect in this moment to the wisdom of my soul.
But my soul loves dabbling in the dirt—crying, raging, fucking, laughing, eating, bleeding—even though I may not always like it. Why are we here if not to experience the raw, profane bliss of having a body?
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Editor: Emily Bartran