My spirits sank this weekend, as I realized what I needed to do over the next few days to get ready for my trip to California. The prospect of going excites me, because I will be seen by one of the foremost experts in our nation on the subject of the virus that plagues me. But attending to the details of the trip overwhelms me.
Then I watch the live feed from Ferguson, Missouri, after the announcement of the return of a no-true bill by the Grand Jury. I see people walking in the streets of the town where my cousins live, where my aunt and uncle raised them and some of them stayed or returned. And I think: Regardless of how stressed I might become over the prospective of taking this trip and all that comes with it, these people, right here, right now, on both sides of the tear gas thrown and the rubber bullets shot — these people have a greater burden.
The Prosecuting Attorney; the LiveStream monitor; the police officers in the streets; the woman on the phone to her family; Michael Brown’s family; all of these people have a greater burden tonight than I do.
My soul quiets. My heart becomes somber. If all of these people can handle what confronts them this evening, I believe that I can handle what I must do.
I don’t know whether the 25 days of testimony bear out the Grand Jury’s return of a no-true bill. But that was their decision, and now the people of Ferguson, Missouri — the young black men, the police, the politicians, the teachers, the children, the families — now they have to manage their lives within the confines of that outcome. As I hear the LiveStream recorder tell us about tear gas seeping through his gas mask I wonder what kind of world we have created. “Oh my god, did you see that,” says a voice. “They are shooting tear gas into the neighborhood!” And I look at the live feed and ask myself again: What kind of world have we created?
My perspective changes in the face of events of this magnitude. My life seems suddenly manageable.