Written to my Meeting.
I write to you for many reasons, but mostly for the sake of my mother. She and I spoke over the phone at length this morning. Trying to be the dutiful, responsible son, I tried to put her anxieties aside, but I'm not sure I succeeded. She is very afraid, fearful that the riots that have recently raged in Baltimore will spread and grow in intensity. And, as she shared with me, part of her concern harkens back to a very different era. It is one I do not understand because I was not alive back then. I may have read the history and seen the images on a television, but the emotions and grief that our entire country felt back then are merely abstractions to me.
Like some of you reading this, my mother remembers the chaos of 1968 and the numerous riots that broke out following the assassination of MLK, Jr. She remembers the riots in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention, which transpired later that same year. These violent events in tandem, along with the assassinations of RFK and MLK, left a mark upon her, one I see now that in some ways resembles the symptoms of PTSD. It is not an exaggeration to say that many who were alive then still bear scars from those tragedies and can be rightfully considered to be the walking wounded.
This city in which we live (Washington, DC) has arguably never fully recovered from its own riots, including several impoverished sections of the District. And this is true for other cities and other people, too. Even if some like my mother weren't there in person and only experienced the upheaval on live television or the nightly news, the images were nevertheless indelible, searing themselves into the consciousness of everyone alive during those times.
Others see the excitement of a new cause and the promise of long-denied change. But we must also recognize that riots and civil unrest of a different era produced victims whose wounds may be invisible, but they are very real and they have persisted for a lifetime. It is for this reason that I pray for peace and restraint, even as I understand the powerlessness that has led some to loot, burn, and pillage.
In the Light,