Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Be Grateful?

Sometimes the world is slightly thrown off it's axis. The way we look at things is altered, the things we thought were cohesive, no longer make sense. Ordinary activities seem a little more disjointed, a little pointless. We hug our loved ones closer to us again, are kinder to friends and more patient with strangers.

At others we grow bitter and shake our fists at the sky and hold angry monologues in the living room, because we have been here before. There is an insult to this injury, because it is one of many, part of a pattern that becomes clearer with every new hurt. We scold ourselves for holding out hope, against hope. We shake our heads at our own naiveté.

I'm of, of course, talking about the events of the last two days in the media, about Fergurson, the grand jury's rather unprecedented decision to not indict, about the civil unrest and militarized law enforcement response that followed. The talk of the town, the fodder of news and social media.

I was going to write about something else, about our travels last weekend to a family gathering to celebrate Charlie's grandma's birthday, about our favorite haunts in Port Townsend, a little Victorian city by the sea, full of wooden boat enthusiasts. How we ran into our dear friends in the middle of the street. How we always emerge from the bookstore with more than we can carry.

That all seems more than a little trivial today, but at the same time, I don't really have any words to write about the elephant in the room, its ghostly presence just standing next to all conversations, large, imposing, but hard to make sense of.

I'm still new to this country, still figuring out how this society works, where its traumas and pressure points and fault lines lay. How we deal with things here, what the codes and states of civil discourse are...

All I can say is: in our disbelief over yet another glaring injustice, let's not get use to it. Let's hold onto those unlikely hopes, because it's from those hopes getting dashed time and time again that our outrage stems from. And if we don't feel that outrage, then we'll be truly lost, used to idea that what we know in our gut is right will never come to pass in the world.

And more than that,  beyond continuing to nurse our best hopes for our towns, cities, counties, states and for this country and continuing to be outraged when those hopes are dashed, we each of us need to think of something concrete we can do, to make sure these injuries don't keep compounding to the point where we're completely crippled.

That's what I'd like all of us to do even as we gather around heaping tables and quality time with loved ones: be grateful yes, talk and exchange ideas and acknowledge the myriad of collective hurts that hang over our heads, but also, come up with a plan of action, however small, to expand that gratitude and grace we're supposed to feel around these holidays.

Wishing you all a warm, kind, loving and thoughtful Thanksgiving,


  1. Your words are wise and meaningful as usual, these are some great thoughts you just shared...
    Wish you a happy Thanksgiving too!

  2. Right on point. Also, I wish I could sit on that little deck sipping coffee. PNW holds my heart.

    Happy Thanksgiving xx

  3. mmm, i hear the tender gravitas in your words. i spent the eve and all day yesterday with a sense of being stunned. i am NOT new to this country, and yet i am still surprised, everytime, by yet another act of hateful stupidity. while our country is built on racism, we also have a history, or at least so we tell ourselves, of striving for something better, that at our core of a country, we are good people. and then shit like this happens, and all we cast into the shadows is exposed, and it hurts.

    you know what else hurts? looking at the photo of that coffee shop. because i can't be there Right. Now.

    orange (or satsuma?) peels on the dashboard = 1000 words and 100 miles.

    happy thanksgiving! i am grateful for you. xo

  4. Not sure how the decision to not indict is unprecedented. From what I have read (and I've read a great deal about this) there is solid evidence that the guy who got shot did in fact attack the police officer.....before he was shot....then he attempted to attack the guy again at which point the officer shot him. Perhaps the kid would have killed the other guy had he not defended himself by shooting him? This is the conundrum of violence. When shall I not defend my own life so that I might not harm another who intends to harm me? The tragedy is the life that the kid (who was shot and killed) had up to the point when he died. He was regularly engaged in criminal activity. His childhood was fraught with terrible things which I'm sure went no small way to creating him as the person he was. Tragedy is that this scenario is repeated over and over. I feel awful for the people who arrive to this world into a bad space. I feel awful for the police officer. I feel awful sorry for humanity and all it's suffering. I am very thankful for my good life and my small problems and I try to bring reason into the world. Best wishes to you....I enjoy your blog.


    1. MillaNovember 26, 2014 at 10:03 AM
      Thank you for your thoughts, these are important conversations to have, even if we disagree.

      From what I understand, it is as I say, RATHER unprecedented in that grand juries almost never choose to NOT indict and that those kinds hearings are not usually conducted as extensively as this one was and that the prosecutor's role in this indictment process may be construed as somewhat unusual. There was a wide variety of charges they could have chosen to indic with him and it does not appear that there is overwhelming evidence that no criminal misconduct occurred on the part of the officer, which is what the decision to no indict would seem to require. There's also statistical evidence that grand juries are less likely to indict when it comes to officers killing on duty, which would also point to the institutional racism piece, which is what the real tragedy here is.

      The jury's decision to deny Mike Brown's parents, community, Ferguson, Missouri and this nation a trial that would be public and open, is just a turnside of the same lack of opportunities that may have led to this point in the city of Ferguson.

      Mike Brown was not being indicted, Darren Wilson was, something that listing Brown's past misdemeanors overlooks. The issue at hand was not whether he "had marijuana in his system", or engaged in criminal activity, the issue is whether officer Wilson was within his rights to defend himself with a gun against an unarmed man. He is an officer of the law, sworn "to protect and serve", taken to a profession that comes with both considerable risk and power. And while our law enforcement deserves to feel safe in their daily duties, so do the citizen's they are charged with policing. They are here to serve us, they owe their power to us (well you, I'm not a citizen and apparently my personal rights in this country are little murky, but I am using the collective "we" here).

      That's just my view on this, I'm not a legal expert (haha), or even 100% familiar with all the legal aspects of this case at all and we totally agree that there's much we can discuss around violence, but I do think it's important that we acknowledge that those with more power have a greater responsibility to control their use of that power, which I feel like has not been the case here, from the initial confrontation to the outsize response to legitimate protests by the law enforcement.

      Thank you again for your response. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  5. Wonderful post, Milla, and an even better idea to use the time we spend with friends and family to come up with solutions rather than just sulk about and discuss at length. I am not sure where to start, but will be looking into it. Perhaps in the way of volunteering time that I have recently found myself with as the boys are in school. Thank you for such good discussion. And I particularly mean the comments above!

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    1. You know, the more I think about it the more I think that just writing about it is perpetuating the negatron.
      So I'm going to delete it.

      But Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  7. thank you for this beautiful post Milla.

  8. Thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts with us. And the pictures of your meanderings. They echo each other beautifully, and the images offer a window into your suggestion. To see differently, maybe, in order to *be the change we want to see in the world*.

    Love you Milla,

  9. For those of us who have family members who are law enforcement officers, we see another side of this issue. I do not think that Officer Wilson intended to go out and kill someone that day. He was on a call for a child in medical distress when the call came in about the convenience store theft and he stayed with the mother until an ambulance arrived. Viewing the video tape spoke volumes concerning the demeanor and attitude of Mr. Brown. I sincerely regret the loss of life - every life has purpose and meaning, but we are responsible for how we choose to act. I know that we instructed our teenage children to OBEY any time they were stopped by a law enforcement officer and to comply and be respectful. In both situations, if the person had complied, they would not have been hurt. I do not think that police purposely target minorities--I do think that some minorities display hostility towards law enforcement. In our city, this past Thanksgiving, our police officers handed out free turkeys and hams in deprived communities. Law enforcement officers visit schools and libraries. There should be more minority officers, especially in neighborhoods with a higher population of a minority. I think that there should be some changes made in training at the police academies, but we are on a dangerous course if the President and Attorney General use these tragedies to further an agenda of a federalized police force. I would really like to know why the National Guard who Gov. Nixon had called to the ready the week before, were kept from keeping peace that night. It appears that the governor might have had orders to withhold them. Why? I want to know. I do resent that this person was treated posthumously as a hero with 3 White House representatives at his funeral while General Harold Green, assassinated in Afghanistan early this fall, with 34 years of service, had NO representative from the White House at his funeral. And not one bit of outrage have I heard about the young Bosnian man brutally murdered by hammers when taunts in the streets of "Kill the white people" preceded this unwarranted attack. In 2013 123 African Americans were killed by police, 326 Caucasians were killed by police and in the past 6 years, 794 law enforcement officers have lost their lives in the line of duty in the United States.