My kids never really swore in front of me. I don’t swear all that much. Sometimes, when I’m pretty angry. But not often. I wouldn’t let Chris play music with profanity so I could hear it. Not my thing.
And because Chris was passionate about his beliefs, and he might say the same about me, we would argue sometimes, especially about the f-word. He would say I gave power to the word by not using it and I would say it was more powerful when l used it because l only used it on rare occasions. I’m sure Chris swore when he was with his friends, but there is not much swearing in his poetry.
(We were at a youth and family gathering once at Camp Amnicon when Chris was in junior high. I went to check on the kids all hanging out for ages in the sauna. Just as I opened the door, Chris blurts out to another kid, “Shut the f$%^ up.” To be fair, this was a kid that could be annoying. The kids all looked at me and I looked at Chris and just shook my head. And another friend said, “Nice, Chris.” And I shut the door and I’ve laughed every time I’ve told that story because it was so unexpected and he was so embarrassed.
Now since Chris disappeared, I have mostly tried to hold on to things that bring me some little bits of piece. My activism has basically been reduced to listening with sadness at healthcare being cut, people being deported, others dying from overdoses and suicide, the dismantling of environmental protections and what I see as an erosion of the already fragile rights of many in our society.
I haven’t been able to “go there” yet. When things get too argumentative the little bit I listen to the radio or when I see things on Facebook, I have to tube out. And I so want to be there, but as another activist friend of mine recently wrote to me… baby steps. If I don’t take care of myself now I’ll never be able to be there for others. Feels selfish though I know it’s what I have to do.
So I haven’t posted yet some of the, what I might call edgier poetry that Chris wrote. But today I’m taking a baby step because Chris’s friend Zach and his family are suffering, along with other families across this nation, because of a gross injustice. And so tonight I share a little bit of what I think Chris might share with his friends if he were still physically with us.
This first poem is a critique of our society. Chris used to say to me that my generation really messed things up for his, and he was probably right annoy that in a lot of ways.
Chris recognised the injustices of our world. He had to learn about the privileges afforded to him because of his gender, class and skin color. But he was, indeed, learning. And like so many of his generation, he put his body on the line to walk with those who are oppressed and suffer more injustices than he did, because in the end we did suffer some injustice. (I’ve written some about this previously and I’m sure I will again).
These pictures are from the Climate March in NYC after which Chris became a vegetarian because of you’re going to march you have to change things in your own life, too, and from some marches around Minneapolis..
He was so hopeful as he was on his way:
And right now, it’s hard to carry this optimism. It’s sometimes hard to remember that it just starts with a few. And right now, I know that my community is holding me up and they’re showing up where I can’t. And Zach’s community is fueling him with love right now, too.
Some who have been blinded are starting to wake up. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. And that light is love and hope and solidarity and faith, even when it’s hard to see or feel or believe.
But I truly believe that love is revolutionary. By love we cannot fail.