Sing Them to Sleep

So the world’s a mess right now. All the places are a mess, crisis after crisis in the Middle East (which I purposely report in broad and sweeping terms because I truly know nothing about all the different conflicts or what people who are hurting other people actually want or hope to gain). We’ve had Ferguson, and now we have Baltimore.

And I am not qualified to speak about this.

I am not qualified to offer any sort of opinion or suggestion or recommendation.

I am not. 

But I do know that coming off a really excellent first episode of season three of Ripper Street, with all of the gore that entails, with all of the doing good things with dirty money that is present, I look to the TV and see that a city is burning.

It is burning up with people who are misunderstood.

And who are not making the process of understanding them any easier.

It is burning up with violence tourists. Those jerks who just show up and make things worse, some sort of voyeurs who hear that something terrible is going down and make a point of being there.

It is curfew and the police are shouting through bullhorns and a man is shouting about how they don’t understand, and he just wants to make them understand.

I don’t think throwing bricks and rocks is the way.

And I don’t think pissing off police officers is the way.

But neither is gassing people with tear gas or beating them with batons.

I don’t think posting uplifting videos of people doing GOOD Things is the way any more than posting (frankly) shitty pictures of Kermit wondering why no one has burned down the welfare office is the way.

I don’t know what the way is. 

And that’s why I am not qualified, because I don’t live there, because I have never lived there; in a police state, in anything even sort of like civil unrest (unless one counts Christmas Eve at Meijer civil unrest, because that is not to be played with), in any place that is even sort of diverse.

Here I am, a white girl, a middle class girl, in a rich town sitting on my comfy chair with my husband sleeping down the hall and my girls sleeping too and a big yellow dog sleeping in the middle, holding the rope that balances the rooms taught, keeping everyone safe.

I think that if I were there, and you will just have to forgive my ignorance and my arrogance here for a second, because the picture in my mind was beautiful and I want to paint it for you, if I were there I would sing them to sleep.

I would climb up on something tall, and I would have thought ahead and brought a bullhorn or something. And I would draw in the others who are like me.

But the point is that those first brave notes have to come from me, and from you. In the midst of the chaos and the shouting and the police and the missiles sailing through the air, I would climb up somewhere high and feel the wind pulling and worrying my clothing.

And I would sing out loud and clear into the night, and hope to God that someone else knew the song and was brave enough to come with me.

I would sing, Dona nobis pacem. (Grant us your peace).

I would sing compline, every song I have ever known, gospel hymns and Disney princess songs.

And I know that somewhere in that heaving mass of humanity, someone would hear me, this scared and breathless voice floating out over the night, and they wouldn’t think about it, they would just sing along.

And then someone else would come in, and then we would have a true round and everyone could throw in the towel for the night and begin again in the morning.

Why does night time lend its hand to unrest?

Why do people feel that they are left out, that they have to grieve what happened to their ancestors many years ago? I grieve the things that happened too, I grieve holocausts and KKK members, and I grieve potato famines and doomed Jacobite uprisings. I grieve mistakes I have made and things I have said, people I have ignored or not helped more, if at all.

And I understand that what is happening is wrong, at its core it is wrong, but I also understand that I have to move forward at some point and stop looking for retribution, for confession or apology. I understand that only through love will I make any difference at all, and even that difference will feel not enough.

And this is where I slide into don’t know what I’m talking about and so I will change the subject.

Today a  little boy brought a knife to school, just a little one. And I asked my Ave about it, I asked her if he was mad? Did he want to hurt someone? (My God. He is six years old.) And she said, no mama, he is scared that someone will attack our school and he will have to defend himself.

That someone will attack our little old school, in what feels like the safest place ever. And yet I’ve learned that our littles are canaries in the coal mine, singing out danger before we ever know its there.

Dona nobis pacem.

I hope the folks in Baltimore go to bed soon.

I hope that the end goal (for there must always be one or what is the point?) is realized.

I hope those people are safe.

I hope the police officers stay safe too.

As I said, I am not qualified to write about this.

But I would begin a round, I would climb up on the hood of a burned out car and I would begin to sing. I hope I would bring some people with me for this stunt, my amazing Kelly who only sings alto for me, maybe my brother, we’d need a tenor, I can think of a Schallert or three.

Because music is a powerful thing. It is a magic all its own. A quelling force or a force for justice. I don’t hear any music tonight, all I hear is shouting and pain.

I would hope that our music could lull the anger and the rage, just for tonight. What more can we ask for than that? Just tonight.

Only tonight. Sing for me, just for tonight, be that sometimes solitary voice, that brave one who is calling foul, and also calling for peace. Light a little candle, drive back the dark with your voice, you can, you really can.

Dona nobis pacem.


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