I was looking for my anger over the last few days, wondering why it wasn’t here. Anger about my community. About what we are all going through.
To be honest, though, I speak from luxury. I really do. I didn’t lose a home. I didn’t lose family or friends in the shooting. I am still here. Even if there was anger, I’m not certain I’m entitled to it.
That’s what I was thinking. What I was thinking until the anger finally came. The anger came and here I sit. Asking a favor of my readers. Of the people on my Social Media accounts. Of the whispered words and tweets and texts:
Seriously, shut the ever loving hell up with all of your negativity.
We cannot stand it. We cannot tolerate you, four hundred miles away, sitting at your computer screen, typing out your judgement. The brave armchair warrior, calling out our local farms for not evacuating horses as quickly as they ought to. Have you ever tried to lead a horse through smoke? Please, sit down. Breathe. Take a moment. Think on all you do not know.
We cannot stand those of you who act as if mental illness isn’t real. Like PTSD is some liberal conspiracy. Like people don’t do cruel things because we live in a cruel world because we have too easy access to guns because society is, quite frankly, broken. 13 people died as a result of all these things combined. Please stop. Please stop pretending like these things do not exist.
You are hurting us. With your judgements, with your online anger, with your self-righteousness. You are hurting a community that needs to heal.
Yeah, yeah, rah, rah, womp, womp, womp freedom of speech I know you have it but guess what you do not have? A grasp on responsibility. A grasp on the weight of words. They mean something. Sticks and stones break bones, and words will always hurt us. When you exercise your freedom of speech, you are also, inevitably, taking responsibility for what your words will do. You may not do it consciously, but the responsibility is there inherent.
So, to my “friends” who say that we could have done better. That we should have done better. That we should have cleared a few more trees that we should have had open carry that we should have should have should have done a million more things better…tell me what does that do for us now? What does “should haves” do for a broken community? When does an I-told-you-so ever do anything good for anyone? I still love you, but you are driving me as close to crazy as it gets.
I found my anger. Funny enough, it’s directed in a very different direction than I thought it would have been.
You. All of you out there far away not here not sitting here crying seeing neighbors with no homes seeing neighbors with no daughters with no sons do not tell me that you told me so. Once upon a time, words were meant for education. They were present to inspire growth and learning. It is shameful to see them used for any other purpose.
Yes, I have found my anger.
I love my community. I love the way they’ve banded together I love the way I’ve watched strangers hug hold hands talk have conversations. I love the way people have cleaned up trash I love the way we’ve chased fires together I love the way we’ve entered one another’s homes the way we’ve helped the way we’ve loved.
If you are contributing negativity here—you are part of the problem. If you are from here and you are not posting messages of goodwill and support—you are part of the problem. If you are across the country in another state in another district telling us how our laws and our amendments and our convictions are hurting us—you are part of the problem.
But here’s the thing: really, we aren’t listening to you. I have goosebumps sitting here at the thought of how inspiring our communities have been. I’m shaking with the absolutely passionate power of love and empathy and compassion. Go on ahead, armchair warriors. Do your worst. We stopped listening ten tweets ago.
I have been saying this for a long while, and I will say it still for a long while yet. Positivity and love have power. Negativity is like the fires—they are dying out. We are rebuilding while your hate fizzles all away. I am a proud Californian. I am a proud American. I am a proud human being. Today, all in that order.
Words hurt. Watch yours, and watch them closely. We will not take your anger here—our homes are too filled up with love.
Want to know my favorite story of Thousand Oaks?
I’ll tell you. It’s a series of stories, really. I work with kids. Young kids. Children. I get to hear them—I get to hear the words they say, the crazy little concoctions of words that they come up with. I get to hear how much they love. How wonderfully their parents have been at teaching empathy. At teaching kindness. I live in a town that loves. That loves greatly. That is bigger than the spiting little echoes of an internet chain.
So shut up. Please. I mean this as kindly and as sternly as I can mean it. Stop. But if you must continue, know that your words are tinder for our love-fire. They are all the fuel our healing needs. Thousand Oaks, you are beautiful, not for all the things that are said, but for all the things I see you do. I’m watching. The world is watching. What an inspiring place I have the luxury of calling home.
Shit, I’m so damned proud to be from a place like this. I’m so damned proud of every one of you. #thousandoaksstrong #californiastrong