August 8, 2019

We deserve a Life Participation Award because this Sh*t is Hard.

Ahead of me, there were seven people, each holding a letter of a sign.

I snapped a photo of them, thinking that it was the best protest sign I’d seen all evening. Together, they spelled out #enough. 

And it was then that the crowd around me grew silent.

I was attending an event at the Minnesota State Capitol building called Honor Them With Action: A Rally Against Gun Violence and Hate. The flags on the building were flying at half-mast in respect and mourning for those involved in and touched by the recent mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and in El Paso, Texas.

Standing in the crowd, it struck me how real it all was. These mass shootings and issues of gun control weren’t just words on my screen any longer. They weren’t news articles and Instagram posts. I was standing among the doers, the shakers, the people who had had #enough and who were passionately telling us that words weren’t going to solve our problems, only actions will.

As politicians and activists spoke, a helicopter was circling above us, over and over again, making it harder to hear those who were speaking.

The sound inside the crowd came to a hushed whisper as we craned to hear just what it was that the woman with the microphone was trying to tell us. She quietly informed us that there was currently a local hospital under lockdown after a shooting incident, mere minutes away from us.

The news spread through the crowd like a wave.

We shared a moment of silence upon hearing the news before the rally continued.

What cruel irony.

And just like that, shit got real, real.

We were all wrestling collectively to wrap our hearts and our minds around the situation. Folks around me had their phones out and were searching for news. I did too, until I realized that the best thing I could do to “honor them with action” was to be present, or as present as I could be.

One speaker was clearly upset by the news. His words to the audience were simple. He said, “All of you are doing something. Thank you.” A simple thank you, but really, it was everything.

It is everything. 

Change isn’t brought about by inaction, but by action. Making the choice to show up and have a hand in making history is a rare privilege and one granted to those who are willing to make the effort. I want to shake the hand of everyone who is showing up, making a stand, and deciding that enough is #enough.

I want to never feel such cruel, cold irony again.

We need to turn to those around us and thank them for their participation in life rather than avoidance of it because this shit is hard. We’re all in this thing together. It’s real and it’s raw and it’s not going to change until we refuse to accept the status quo.

Allow me to thank you if you are showing up. If you are using your voice to somehow be heard in these loud, deafening times. Thank you. Thank you for deciding that enough is #enough.

That’s our first step.

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