Just saw The Butler, Oprah Winfrey's film about the Civil Rights Movement. And while the movie itself didn't strike me emotionally-- rather contrived to include too much history, when almost 90% of the film was done I suddenly burst into tears, and could not stop them.
I wasn't crying for the Black's plight, or for the Butler's, losing one son to the Vietnam war, if that really even happened, and losing his other to self-righteous indignation. Inside me was screaming, “I don't understand. I don't understand why we are the way we are.”
I sat in that dark theater while the credits rolled, crumpled in the seat crying uncontrollably, apologizing to my 14 year old son for not being smarter, stronger, a better parent, a wiser human being. I was glad for the darkness, that there were no other kids in there so I wouldn't shame him in front of his peers. And I cried.
I don't understand why we are the way we are, kept repeating in my head.
Yes. You do, my intuition said.
In the movie, the Black Panther's message, “They kill one of us, we kill two of them,” ignited hate that plays out every day in the streets of Oakland, South Chicago, across this country and others around the world where Black communities are disenfranchised. This message of violence, and retribution has served, and will continue to serve no one.
Anger, frustration turned to violence are born of pain, hurt, shame. Hurt enough, and we stop caring about each other. When we're hurt over and over again, humans, like most all animals on this planet attack.
Hurt is primary. Anger is secondary, our reaction to pain.
Fear is primary. Frustration is secondary, to thwart feeling afraid.
Been fighting a lot with someone I care about for quite some time now. My feelings get hurt by behavior I feel thoughtless, careless, cruel. Instead of crying, simply showing, and talking about how hurt I feel, I attack back. We use words as our weapon, say horrible things that should, truth or not, never leave our heads. The fight escalates, until both of us are exhausted, and finally we slink off to our corners to lick our wounds. Our wounds are not physical, and they do not heal. They compound with each fight over time, tearing apart trust, and eventually love.
Every divorced couple out there knows what I'm talking about. So does every parent who responds in frustration when their kid doesn't listen, instead of expressing their fear for their child's well being.
By the time the lights came up in the theater I managed to stop crying, but as I write this tears are again streaming down my cheeks. The anger I usually feel towards the Oakland punks killing each other in the streets has abated tonight. I let go of the frustration with my loved ones, and myself for our frailties. Tonight, I'll be brave enough to express my hurt, accept the pain over hiding it with anger, or burying it in righteous indignation, and cry.
Tomorrow, and forward, I'll work hard to show when my feelings are hurt, or express my fear, and stop there, leave it at that, instead of inflicting my anger.