[EDITOR’S NOTE: I copied the following Facebook post from a young man whom I know and admire. David Smith comes from the same county (Fayette) in West Virginia I did. He is a local (Huntington WV), extremely talented screen-writer, director and movie producer. He is also an exceptionally sensitive, loving and caring person. I don’t think David will mind if I reprint his words here. They are reflective of how so many of us feel right now, and they are worth the time of our national and international readers. I did not attempt to illustrate the piece because I did not want to distract from its heartfelt meaningfulness, starkness, suffering and relevance. Thanks, David, for sharing your thoughts!]
“I don’t know really know what to do. I don’t really know what to say. Even if I knew what to say, I don’t want to *just* say something, you know? I want to do something. But I don’t know what to do. And I almost don’t even want to vent, because if I vent, it will alleviate the anger and sadness, at least a little, and I’m not sure if those are feelings that should be alleviated right now. Even just a little.
I will try to say something though, because maybe if we keep saying and posting things, eventually something will be done and the world will become a better place.
Here’s how I experienced the news yesterday. I knew there were shootings. I’ve gotten back in the practice of skimming headlines in the morning and saving important and interesting ones to read later. I saw the news in there, and I saw it trending on Facebook. I knew that in two separate recent instances, a police officer used excessive force and shot and killed a black man. I was angry, and I was sad. But I’ll be honest — I didn’t stop to read all the details when I first saw the stories. I figured I’d get to them later. Because this has become a part of our lives. And that’s horrible.
When I finally got a break in the day, I read the details. I read about Alton Sterling being shot outside of a convenience store. I read CNN’s description of Diamond Reynold’s Facebook livestream of the aftermath of the shooting of her fiancée Philando Castile. I haven’t watched the videos. Again, if I’m honest, I hate admitting this, but I don’t know if I can.
I read the details though, and I felt numb.
We have live real-time proof that this kind of thing happens now. I hope that makes a difference, but I have sort of lost faith that it will. Because it shouldn’t be necessary to go to these extremes! I can’t imagine having the courage Diamond Reynolds had to make that video. But she shouldn’t have even had to have it!
It feels wrong to just go on living life, business as usual. But then it also feels wrong to let the hopelessness consume you.
After a while, what I landed on was that all I can do is be the best person I can be. Until I figure something else out. Keep an eye out for opportunities to make a positive impact when they come up. And in the meantime… try to do well and help people whenever and however I can. I’m lucky that in my job, I have the opportunity to assist people who need a lot of help. So I went back to work and tried even harder than usual to engage and connect with people and help out. I felt a little guilty that it took something so horrible to make me want to “try harder” — that I wasn’t trying as hard as I was yesterday before. But I tried not to focus on that and to focus harder on doing good work.
I worked the rest of the day. Then I met with some friends to rehearse the short film we’re making this weekend. It was fun. I went home and had pizza and hung out with my girlfriend.
Then as I was discussing some details for the film on Facebook, I watched the news from Dallas come in. More awfulness. More violence.
Today I’ve just been sharing posts that other people have been making and sharing that I like and agree with. And I’ve been thinking about and starting to type what I’ve just written.
I feel guilty that this is my struggle — “what do I post on Facebook? I hope I don’t say the wrong thing. I hope people don’t think I’m just trying to get ‘likes.’ I hope people don’t think I don’t care.” That’s my struggle — not being worried that I’m going to be murdered for reaching for my ID after being pulled over for a busted taillight! The world is not a fair place. Again, I won’t let the hopelessness totally consume me, and I don’t think any of us should, as hard as it is — there are a lot of good things in the world — but this just reminds us that the world can be pretty fucking shitty.
Anyway. This isn’t as eloquent as any of the posts I’ve been sharing. I guess it’s not as overwhelmingly positive as a lot of the posts I’ve been liking. But it’s how I feel. It’s where I’m at. If this is a “status update,” then this is my status. Angry. Upset. But trying to find the good, and trying to do as well as I can wherever, whenever, and however I can do it.
Going on living life, but not business as usual.”