by Joyce Wycoff
(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day, the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life.)
We in the United States of America have not experienced war on our own shores. We haven’t seen bodies piling up in the streets, or walked through the rubble surrounded by snags of bombed-out buildings. Some of our older neighbors remember the rationing of sugar and meat, but only those of us who have come from other countries have directly experienced the famine of a years-long war or the presence of armed invaders parading past our homes.
Perhaps that’s why January 6 has hit us so hard. We’ve seen … on the news … genocide caused by tribalism in other countries. We’ve seen the creeping devastation of the Israel/Palestine conflict … on the news. We’ve seen the before and after pictures of the Middle East, again on the news.
Now, in our own living rooms, we have watched deadly conflict taking place in an icon of our country. We are hearing our own neighbors call for insurrection and civil war. We are holding our breath as what has been a routine rite-of-passage … our peaceful transfer of power ... becomes a powder keg of potential conflict.
This letter is supposed to be a love letter to my life. This month, it’s hard. If I draw a small circle around my life, it is still wonderful: I’m healthy, connected to family and friends, have a roof over my head, food in my cupboards, and a beautiful oak forest surrounding me.
However, if I draw the circle a bit larger, people are suffering and dying from an out-of-control virus as well as hatred between neighbors. An even larger circle finds us listening to the groaning of our planet from the wounds we have inflicted on it.
I remind myself that other civilizations, other countries, have died, and yet humans have survived. I remind myself that even if humans do not survive, our planet will survive and repopulate itself with other species … perhaps with species more wise than we have been. Those reminders are cold comfort as my heart breaks thinking about all the young people who will be impacted by our decisions.
I am grateful to be alive, grateful for my wonderful small circle, and hope to be able to write a different kind of love letter next month.
May we become wiser and kinder in the coming days.
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