#justice

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I’ve been struggling with this blog post for a few days now. The events of this week have left me feeling even more powerless, sad, and confounded about the state of the world than I was before. So, I’m going to get real instead. Like really real.

An hour or so ago millions of Americans were glued to their flat screens as they watched the dramatic conclusion to today’s manhunt. We are without cable (and WiFi) here in our little country retreat, so I spent my evening occasionally glancing at my WaPo app searching for updates. When I wasn’t fooling around with my phone, however, I was engaged in yet another heartbreaking discussion/argument/cry fest with my husband. As we listened to the pounding winds and torrential rain beat down the thin walls and windows of our rental home, we traveled down the increasingly well worn path to tears. 

“You, you always seem mad.” TC tells me.

This statement alone makes me mad because who, besides myself, can know how much effort I dedicate on a daily basis to staying sane, happy, and above water.

“I am entitled to be mad once in awhile,” I explain frustratedly. “You will never know what this has been like for me.”

We have said these lines to each other, verbatim, at least a dozen times now on separate occasions. I am mad. I am furious. I am impatient. I can’t listen to or decode one more sentence of TC’s nonsensical gibberish. I have a husband I can’t talk to anymore. We can’t even argue properly because neither one of us understands what the other is saying. I’m sad. I’m exhausted. The person I spend 24 hours a day with doesn’t understand me anymore. And it’s neither of our faults.

Each argument evolves in a similar pattern: Abby gets impatient with TC. TC clearly doesn’t understand the pressure Abby feels. Abby explains why things suck so much. TC realizes that this situation is indeed bad and the future uncertain. TC promises to do more to help out. Abby feels guilty because she knows TC is already doing everything he possibly can to help. Abby apologizes for being so negative. TC apologizes for not understanding and admits that he’s still very confused about what’s going on most of the time. Abby cries because how on Earth can her brilliant husband be so easily confused? Abby and TC discuss possible worst case future outcomes. Abby and TC cry in despair over these possibilities. Abby and TC decide they can only survive by doing one thing: hoping for the best and planning for the worst. Abby and TC hug, promise to be kinder to each other, and recommit themselves to the idea that one day they will be a normal, happy family again. Then they cry once more because they realize they have a two-year-old son and no matter how crappy things feel for them individually, he is the only one that matters; the only one whose future and whose feelings really count here.

So, that’s the abridged version of our weekly fall apart. Now back to Boston. In the days after 9/11 I remember feeling quite squeamish while watching footage of the falling twin towers set to emotional U2 tracks on network television. It felt like the event was being commercialized, packaged, and sold as a dramatic box set of DVDs to the American people. I mean, U2, really? Now, in the minutes and hours following the Boston manhunt I am plagued by this same squeamish feeling as I read through the theatrical  Tweets, hashtags, and status updates. WE GOT HIM, #prayforboston, #weareallbostonians, GOT YOU, ASSHOLE. 

I’m reading updates and messages that claim feelings of relief and peace now that the remaining suspect has been apprehended. I know I don’t live in Boston anymore, but I sure as hell don’t find relief in any of this. A 19-year-old is in jail. Does that explain any of the madness that wreaked havoc on Boston this week? Does it explain why over a 100 people were senselessly and mercilessly left disabled? Does it provide any guarantee that this won’t happen again tomorrow, somewhere else, to you, or your cousin, or God forbid, your child?

Justice is a funny word. Its definition seems to be diversely interpreted these days. For me, justice is not equivalent to staking out a suburb and bringing a psychologically ill teenager into legal custody. Justice was not served for my family on that night three young men were arrested in connection with TC’s assault. Justice is not fully served here. In fact, the process of justice has barely begun. Justice is ensuring that all Americans live in a nation where their lifestyles are not dictated nor destroyed by fear or violence. Justice is ensuring that Monday’s surviving victims go on to lead happy, productive lives. It doesn’t end tonight with a stakeout in a backyard and pats on the back. I applaud all the hard and tireless work that was demonstrated today, but the hardest work is still ahead.

When our trusted Senate willingly and callously fails to exercise the type of common sense that could lead us in the direction of true justice, I have to wonder if collectively we are all on the same page here. Are we willing to be pawns of the 24 hour news cycle? Are we willing to forget Monday’s disturbing images and the heart pounding sensation we all experienced when we realized once again that, yes, violence can be inflicted upon anyone at any time regardless of age, ethnicity, and location? I’m happy that the people of Boston had some of their questions put to rest tonight. But are we ready to do the real hard work of addressing those that are still unanswered?


9 thoughts on “#justice

  1. Abby, you know what the families of the victims of the Boston attack are going to find out. There is no justice in cases like this. The most heinous punishment they could give that young man or TC’s attackers won’t fix anything. It won’t bring lost limbs back to those in Boston, or lost lives, and it won’t bring the old TC back to you. And for that I am profoundly sorry. I wish you both the space to mourn your loss separately, and the strength and love to find a new and fulfilling peace together. You are and remain in my thoughts and prayers.

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  2. I agree with you on all counts. I lost a treasured, years-long friendship of one intelligent, educated woman after 9/11 who accused me of being unpatriotic for my overall views and my horror at her heinous and virulent statements. Truthfully the world exhausts me and I deeply regret I am not able to offer solutions and (as the adage goes), hope my inaction does not make me part of the problem. I am grateful for this post as it states so eloquently, exactly how I feel. Thank you Abby.
    Regarding your immediate situation, if there is anything we, your friends and colleagues can do to help, just name it. I do believe that Jack is the glue that will get his parents beyond these hurdles. Also keep in mind through the tears and exhaustion, it has been less than a year and you, mostly, single-handedly, post-surgery, have brought TC through the worst and made amazing progress towards recovery. You are human and must always allow yourself to release your pain and acknowledge fragile moments in order to carry on and maintain/recover your strength. Know that you are not alone ever.

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  3. The chants of “USA, USA” in Watertown after the capture troubled me. As did the photos of two young men–one barely a man at all–who were sad and confused and agitated and, in the end, unable to find the help they needed to resolve those feelings. There is little to celebrate here. Thanks for another thoughtful post abby, hope your upcoming trip is restorative.

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  4. Thank you for asking these questions. We need to keep asking them so that they don’t, once again, fade into the background. It’s hard to do because it also means holding onto the pain, but maybe that is the only way to make progress towards justice. Thank you for writing.
    -Karen

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  5. Unfortunately it’s hunan nature to try to fit everything into neat little ribbon-tied boxes. An sometimes that prohibits us from seeing the bigger picture. We focused on getting Bin Laden more than what causes someone to trod down such a henious path. I’m not sure we can change human nature except by trying one person at a time.
    Ive volunteered with some local inner city youth before. It’s sometime tough showing them the opportunities that abound and how the “easy way” is rarely the right way. But some have broken the mold and hopefully progress with one less crime like that commite against TC–and subseqently against you and your family. I think a lot of people fail to see a value in trying to change the way things are and would rather bemoan them, ao it’s refreshing to see your commentary. Keep your head high

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