As I sit on the Amtrak, listening to BreakBot, I find myself reflecting on the topic of bereavement. After all, that’s the sole purpose of this solitary voyage back home. I consider all that’s happened within the past month – the passing of a dear brother at my home church as well as his elderly mother, the Ferguson incident and the recent #icantbreathe fiasco, the now seemingly forgotten presence of ISIS and the events that have transpired in relation to the organization. I began realizing that we as a generation and indeed as a race have forgotten how to grieve. We should grieve the passing of loved ones, we should grieve the state of our humanity when the nation is polarized by tragedy, we should grieve the plight of our fellow human beings across the world.
While we do have some semblance of grief when we go through personal loss, the actuality is that the dead are always forgotten – rare are the souls who have the capacity to bear the burden of a living memory until they meet their own demise. The memory of the living serves not for the sake of honoring the deceased, but the proliferation of one’s own experiences as fuel for an individual stance on present circumstances. Multiple agendas begin to undermine the tragedies we are presented with, as sorrow turns to bitter fury. Instead of reflecting upon the lives lived by those taken from us, we begin to construct angles from which to view the situation with the intent of assigning fault, and we become more involved with our perception of setting the record straight rather than using the time we have to properly entomb the past dearly in our hearts.
This is not to say that this post itself has no agenda because to do so would be entirely hypocritical. However, it is a transparent plea for our modern generation to stop resorting to anger instead of understanding. People rage at God, bicker with society, and renounce the pillars on which they’ve built their lives – and to what end? We offend each other with the positions that we take, and in times where solidarity is the first stepping stone to recovery, we stomp off the path onto the clearer, more passionate route. People who were of one mind find themselves at odds over a situation that should not be divisive, but rather decisive; there needs to be a change. But, being as fickle as we are, we are apprehensive of letting hesitation and pondering cool the fire that burns within us, and so we look for the quick fixes. We swiftly blame the authorities, scorn the party that is “clearly” at fault, and crucify the most vulnerable target. We don’t bother to examine ourselves as a society and see that these problems began with ourselves. When we teach our youth to respond with vitriol and animosity, we damage any prospect of improving the society we perceive to be so riddled with flaws. When we encourage the open opposition of authority, what kind of message are we sending to those we will take care of this world after us? Is what we want a world filled with people seeking recompense and retribution instead of a human race willing to have its heart broken, truly broken, so that from that heartache we may advance?
To remember the dead is now a mere societal obligation. It seems like we pursue the next crime scene in more earnest than we choose to remember and understand the losses we’ve endured. The fact of the matter is, we have forgotten how to mourn. We hurt our brothers and our sisters, and yet we dare not say that we were at fault because what we continue failing to see is that the solution lies not with us. We need to admit our fallen state, and look ahead to our shared future inheritance. If a nation chooses unity for its youth instead of the pretense of justice, it will provide for the foundation of our true mutual understanding of one another as humans – not as colors, cultures, or creeds – and it is the greatest good we can render unto the preservation of this world when it comes time for our children to mourn us. The hope is that in their time, their mourning of us might not beget more mourning, but silent consideration and appreciation for the lessons we’ve left behind.