The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
My name is Angela Shortt, and I’m a writer. I’m also mother to three of the most wonderful people in the world (my biased opinion), and grandmother to an amazing grandson. Apparently, my only other duty in life is to be in recovery from my various distractions during this ongoing spiritual journey as a Baha’i and a “friend of Bill”. It’s not easy, but it’s getting better, one day at a time.
“You can only take care of yourself. There’s nothing you can do about anything else that’s going on right now.” I hear that a LOT from my fellow 12 steppers.
I hear it so much that I quit confiding to them about what truly disturbs me these days. Amadou Diallo. Trayvon Martin. Oscar Grant. Alan Bluford, Ezell Ford. Kimani Gray, Michael Brown. Eric Garner. And 12 year old Tamir Rice, by himself, playing with a toy gun in a Cleveland park. Only five years older than my grandson, to me, he was still a baby.
But this list doesn’t even come close to the number of unarmed Black men who have been killed by police since 2007.
And people forget that an unacceptable number of Black women have been shot by the police, too. Oh, you didn’t know? Seven year old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was shot by Detroit policeman Joseph Weekley as she lay sleeping on the living room couch under a blanket. And there have been many, many more. Adaisha Miller. Alesia Thomas, Darnesha Harris. Eleanor Bumpers. Erica Collins. Heather Parker. Kendra James. Their names aren’t as familiar as the others to the public, but that doesn’t make a difference to me. They are no less dead, and that is no less tragic.
I admit that I have a temper. I keep it check so much that people have paradoxically described me as “easygoing”, “placid”, even “comforting to be around.” If only they knew the tsunami that broils inside of me at times like these.
My own grown children–ages 33, 32 and 28–no longer live with me, and they haven’t for years. I’m still their mother, though, and I feel frightened for them each and every day. Not only that, I fear for my grandson. What kind of hateful world will we leave for him, to try to make his way through without the threat of being….I can’t write that. Even the thought of losing my children and grandson is indescribably terrifying. Those people I named before? They were real, as were the police who killed them.
That’s where my temper comes into play. When I share my fears with my 12-step friends (I’ve been in various programs since 1987), they respond in predictable ways. I find it as infuriating as being stuck on Interstate 80 between Oakland and Berkeley during the afternoon rush hour, when an extremely old lady wedges her car across two lanes in front of you, and she doesn’t seem to know how to straighten out her 1972 green Volvo station wagon to move with the traffic.
My 12-step friends mean well when they say, “It’s not happening right now. All you can do is take care of yourself today.” “There’s nothing you can do about that. Just focus on working on your program today.” Oh yes, the power of NOW. I can do that. It doesn’t erase the fear, but I can perfunctorily get through each day NOW. I’m pretty sure that the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and Michael Brown didn’t wake up in the morning of those terrible days thinking, Oh yes, today’s the day my son will be killed by the police, so I better find out who is going to do that so I can stop him! Not that they wouldn’t do that if they had a very clear warning about what was going to happen. But no, that’s not how life works, right? When I think about it, they probably were doing the “just for today” thing because that’s how many Black people get through life. Whew! Made it through my eight hours. Gotta pay the rent today. Do I have enough money for groceries after I pay the light bill?
Yeah, that’s the for-real “ODAT”—which stands for One Day At a Time, which should be ODAAT, but oh well. I feel like screaming, “What do YOU KNOW ABOUT IT? You don’t know! Stop givin’ me that pablum!”
That’s what I feel like doing, but what I really do is get off the phone with lightning speed, or walk away before the fingers on my right hand begin to automatically curl into a fist. I’m sorry, I did mention that I have a solar flare temper, didn’t I? And with anger issues like mine, the last thing I need to do is give some itchy-trigger-finger cop a reason to take me out, too. There’s no doubt in my mind that one of them would, if I ever unleashed my anger, frustration, fear and resentment at the wrong moment. Besides, my friends have done absolutely nothing to deserve that. Other than annoying me with those redundant slogans, they have been supportive, kind and loving. And I’m ashamed of myself for harboring these thoughts.
So what can I do? First of all I pray, upon waking up, and throughout the day. My favorite to recite whenever I feel the anger bubbling up and threatening to ruin my mood and day is this Baha’i prayer:
Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding! – The Bab, Baha’i Prayers, p. 27.
I say that prayer often. I also pray for my family and friends, and for those who have lost their loved ones.
Sign in or create an accountContinue with Facebook